Footloose's Ben Bakken and the importance of ice cream drinks

The Chanhassen Dinner Theatre's stage adaptation of the Kevin Bacon classic Footloose has won rave reviews and added some kick to a lineup of shows that usually features singing nuns and Elvis (not in the same show, unfortunately).

Local singer/dancer/actor Ben Bakken tackles the role of Ren, a high school kid who tries to bring a prom to a town that has banned dancing. The adaptation stays true to the movie (though I do wish they'd somehow worked in Kevin Bacon's classic angry dance) and is onstage through July 31.

1. What's the best thing on the menu at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre and why? Well, I'm a sucker for chocolate, so it has to be the Towering Chocolate Cake for two. But it's more like for six! The thing is huge! And awesome. For a main course, I love me some Chicken Chan. It's a classic! Someone should write a song about it.

2. As a performer do you worry that the audience will be too full to focus on the show, or do you prefer having a well-fed crowd to play to? Well, lots of people like lots of food when they are paying for it, so I suppose give 'em as much as they like, but from my own experience of over-indulging at The New Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, it can make for a very tiring night. Especially when you mix in some wine. I think the key is to make sure you get up and walk around during intermission. Eat your dessert, then go visit the gift shop, or say hi to the fake beavers in the pond by the Playhouse. And get some caffeinated soda in our New Chanhassen Sippers. It'll pep you right up.

3. Do you eat before a performance, or is that a bad idea? If yes, what do you have? I shouldn't, because we start Footloose off right away with some high-energy dancing, but I do sometimes. Eat too close to the show and you'll get a nice stomachache. Not fun. But sometimes you want some Chicken Chan, so you gotta have it! I usually try to eat two hours before showtime so I can digest. I love Subway. I get the same sandwich every time and love it every single time. People make fun of my obsession with Subway. But it is kind of like Chicken Chan--it never gets old. Also, I usually have to have some sort of snack at intermission because I need energy for all the dance numbers. We dance up a storm in Footloose!

4. You do a lot of singing in the show. What's the key to maintaining your voice night after night? Sleep. I try to get at least eight hours a night. When I don't get sleep, I get sick, and my voice goes down the drain. And drinking lots of water. Also running helps me warm up my voice and strengthen it for breath support. I love running. My fiancee and I are running the Twin Cities Red, White, and Boom! half-marathon the morning of our wedding this July 4th. We can't wait! For the half marathon and our wedding!

5. It's intermission at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre: Do you think I should opt for a grasshopper, pink squirrel, or a brandy Alexander? Oh, the possibilities. I see grasshoppers out in the audience the most, and people love them, including my mother. However, my fiancee always wants a pink squirrel whenever we go out. Then again, a brandy Alexander is a classic. I say have some brandy with your appetizers, a grasshopper at intermission, and a pink squirrel to finish off the night right.

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