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“Footloose” actor puts his heart into getting soles

Arts & Entertainment: “Footloose” actor puts his heart into getting soles

By Debra Banerjee
Scarsdale Inquirer
January 6, 2012

They’re cutting “Footloose” at Play Group Theater this month, singing and dancing on stage in the pop rock musical. To go along with the idea of dancing their legs off and “kicking off their Sunday shoes,” as the song goes, the cast is sponsoring a shoe drive to benefit Soles4Souls, an international organization that distributes used pairs of shoes to the those in extreme poverty or recovering from natural disasters. He drive is spearheaded by Scarsdale High School junior Dylan Nossel.

“Community connections is part of our mission,” said Annette Rotter, chairman of the not-for-profit Play Group’s board of trustees. “All of our performances have a community outreach component. Every season we have performances for deserving children in the community. In addition, the winter season has a drive associated with it.” Nossel, 16, said the Soles4Souls drive “is a great way to help not just our local community. It also connects to the show we’re doing.” Nossel has organized the drive, putting out the boxes for collection, sending out fliers and eblasts, counting the shoes, “almost everything,” he said.

At early count, Nossel said he collected “over 150 pairs of shoes,” mostly athletic and casual footwear. Shoes were collected during recent performances of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Soles4Souls “looks for the country most in need,” Nossel said. “Haiti needs shoes the most,” right now, he said.

The son of Craig and Lauren Nossel of Greenacres, Nossel has been with Play Group for the past year and a half. “Footloose,” where he is a member of the ensemble, is the third show he’s been a part of.

“Even though you’re in the ensemble, you feel like you’re the main character [at Play Group]. You get that vibe when doing rehearsal numbers.”

Working on the shoe drive is “a privilege,” Nossel said. “It feels like after my bar mitzvah, like a mitzvah project,” he said. “You get a tingly feeling.”

“I’m so proud of Dylan and all of our young actors for using their talents to promote social action in our community…using their own feet to dance and entertain their audience in ‘Footloose,’ and then making sure that others have shoes on their feet so that they can stay healthy and warm,” said artistic director Jill Abusch in an email to the Inquirer. “As artists, we hope to use our creative energy to better the world, not just to entertain and receive applause. At PGT, we are seeking every opportunity to teach this important lesson—along with all the other skill-based lessons in acting, singing, and dancing—to our students.

“Footloose,” featuring actors from Scarsdale, Edgemont and other Westchester communities, will be on stage at Play Group Theater, 1 No. Broadway, White Plains, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m., Jan. 15 at 2 p.m., Jan. 16 at 2 p.m., Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. Boxes will be available to donate gently worn shoes.

For tickets or additional information, visit www.playgroup.org. To find out more about Soles4Souls or how to donate shoes, visit www.giveshoes.org.

The Play Group Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization made possible in part by generous donors like you. Thank you for your support!