footloose san benito stage company grace zendejas noah ramirez
Grace Zendejas (Ariel Moore) and Noah Ramirez (Ren McCormack) star in San Benito Stage Company’s “Footloose The Musical,” which opens July 14. Photo courtesy of San Benito Stage Company
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San Benito Stage Company’s “Footloose The Musical” is all about youthful rebellion, following a group of teenagers who bring back dancing to a town where it was banned.

That youth is not just in the story alone, but rather, extends to the theater company’s creative staff. 

Director PJ Crocker, 18, is joined by choreographers Ashley Maupin, 18, and Derek Barnes II, 16, and vocal director Denae Torres, 19.

“Footloose The Musical” opens July 14 and runs select days through July 29 at Marguerite Maze Middle School, 900 Meridian St. in Hollister.

Crocker, a Gilroy native and 2023 graduate of Christopher High School, said it’s been a “breeze” connecting with the younger staff, who all have significant theater experience under their belts, making it easy to transition from actors to staff members. 

“We share many values and our creative visions have been pretty on par,” he said. “And when there are differences in those visions, our discussions have always been super positive and insightful ones.”

But being young, sometimes they can get “too ambitious,” Crocker said, crediting seasoned producers Anne Hall and Allen Schneider for helping rein them in at times.

“Footloose The Musical” follows teenager Ren McCormack, who moves with his mother from Chicago to the small town of Bomont. But when McCormack finds out that the town has banned dancing, he and his friends stand up to the authorities to bring it back and help the town heal from a tragedy.

Audiences can also expect to hear some recognizable songs written by Kenny Loggins, such as “Holding Out For a Hero” and “Let’s Hear It For The Boy.”

Crocker said the cast consists of more than 40 people of all ages, and the school’s gym has been transformed into a thrust stage, where audiences can view the performance from three different sides.

Crocker, who is directing his third production, said “Footloose The Musical” has the largest cast of them all.

“It does feel strange at times to be the one person that 40 or more sets of eyes are looking to for the next direction,” he said. “But my experience with the other two shows has definitely helped establish a foundational knowledge that I have really put to work here.”

Crocker said when other sports and hobbies never stuck with him at a young age, theater was that one interest that he became “obsessed” with when he had the opportunity to jump in.

He began his career with the City of Gilroy Recreation’s youth theater programming, and later joined South Valley Civic Theatre while also learning the ropes under Christopher High School’s theater teacher Kate Booth.

Crocker also performed with Pintello Comedy Theater and first started with San Benito Stage Company last summer with “Bye Bye Birdie.”

“Everywhere I went, I found a wonderful community of people who all want to create art to share with others,” he said. “The community and love that envelops you is what keeps me coming back.”

With “Footloose The Musical,” Crocker predicted the audience will want to “jump up on stage and dance along with the local talent.”

The show opens July 14 and runs select days through July 29 at Marguerite Maze Middle School. Showtimes are at 7pm, with 1pm times on July 15 and 29. The musical is rated PG-13 for discussion of mature topics, including death, physical assault and family discord. 

For tickets and information, visit

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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