Ross Ragland Theater provides creative outlet for two

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Two members of the 173rd Fighter Wing practice their talents far from the roar of the aircraft and the smell of JP-8.

Nicole Wallenburn and Justin Love both won roles in the Ross Ragland Theater's production of Footloose which ran for seven performances late in August.

Love explained that he's participated in a number of plays at the theater and was excited that in this production he received a major part.

"I found out when they posted the cast sheet after four days of auditions," Love said. "I was very surprised to get the role of Wes Warnicker."

Love explains that Ren McCormack, the antagonist and main character leaves Chicago for the small town of Bomont. There he fails to fit in to a town reeling from the loss of five teenagers killed after a night out. In response the town banned loud music and dancing in a misguided attempt to forestall further accidents.

Ren brings with him a love of both loud music and dancing thus providing the central tension of the story; a story Love characterizes as a community regaining its joy.

"The core of the story is taking a community that's lost its sense of joy and injecting it back in," he said.

Ironically, that joyful injection resulted in him punching out the main character at one point.
"[the audience] let out an audible "gasp" and the room dropped into this eerie silence because it was so emotionally charged, and no one saw it coming," said Love. "It definitely made the production more fun."

And after four hours-a-night rehearsals and time on the weekends, those moments make all the hard work worth it, say Love and Wallenburn.

Wallenburn says entertaining the community and, "being able to bring that energy are an awesome experience." Her road from Kingsley drill status guardsman to the Ross Ragland began 20 years ago, when her mother enrolled her in a dance class at the age of three. Now she looks forward to practicing her craft in front of an audience, but she still confesses to a touch of nerves before taking the stage.

"What everyone will tell you is that if you make a mistake, 'just go with it and don't fall out of character,' so that's what I do when I'm up there," said Wallenburn.

The production featured seven performances and ran through Aug. 19. For more information about upcoming productions, visit: