Footloose - End of the Bjorling Era on Stage



Last Friday Chris Bjorling watched his five oldest children leave their house and cross the street to Canandaigua Academy like they had done thousands of times. His sixth child, Jared, is in England on his mission trip for his church. The older five children had their own mission - to get great seats to the Canandaigua Academy musical, Footloose. After all, Michael, Nicholas, Spencer, Kathryn, and Carlyn Bjorling owed it to their youngest sibling, Taryn. For Taryn’s entire life, she walked across the street to save seats for their numerous shows. Taryn, now a senior,  watched and attended many, many rehearsals as she tagged along and now it was her turn to shine as Vi in Footloose. 

Beginning in 2007 with Michael’s debut in Beauty and the Beast and ending with Footloose this weekend for Taryn, so too comes the end of the eighteen-year run of the Bjorlings on stage at Canandaigua Academy. All seven of the Bjorling children appeared in at least one musical presented at Canandaigua Academy, many in starring roles, and almost always accompanied by their mother, Heidi, in the pit on the piano during rehearsals and performances. While Heidi may continue as the accompanist, the shows this weekend bring an end to a great run on stage by the Bjorling family. 


Retired Director Scott Schauman, who led 32 musicals at Canandaigua Academy, stated, “I can’t begin to explain how fortunate I have been to work with every one of the Bjorling family in some way. Every Bjorling sibling was talented and delightful to work with and teach. I was especially moved to see all the older siblings attending Friday's opening night. Chris and Heidi have always been the very best of parents and a huge help to me personally. I’ve worked with them closely for years and I consider them like family.  It will be hard to imagine a show without a Bjorling child involved.” 

Longtime choral director Amy Story echoed those sentiments, “Working with the Bjorlings was such a joy for all of us! Each of them brought such a high level of singing, acting, and dancing, but beyond that such positive energy. They were role models for all of us, from the way they approached their part, to how they interacted and worked together with their cast double, to the kindness shown to all, they really raised everyone's game. Before taking the stage, the Bjorling kids would always say, "We got your back." From Chris, Heidi, and Michael all the way down to Taryn, I think they always had all of our backs! Congratulations on an amazing run! So glad to have been a part of it!”

Footloose Director Meghan (Thompson) Davis shared, “I was honored to act alongside three of the older children. It’s come full circle with Taryn. The Bjorling family has had a great impact on our theater program and are part of an amazing group of people who make these shows and experiences special for our students.” 

Canandaigua Academy Curriculum Area Lead Teacher Greg Kane like many is sad to see the last Bjorling graduate, and he shared, “Last Friday, when I watched Taryn step forward on opening night to take the spotlight during her solo number, there I was again, completely wrapped up in the moment. What a beautiful capstone to this legacy of Bjorlings at CA! Taryn’s poise and sincerity on stage felt like it was supported by every one of her siblings in that very moment. I think that we have our very own version of the von Trapp family right here in Canandaigua! Bravo to all and thanks for the countless smiles and memories!”

During the time they have been involved, the Bjorlings have seen musicals repeat twice - Ragtime (2008, 2018) and All Shook Up (2012, 2019), had four children in one show (Titanic, 2014), and worked with multiple directors, musical directors, choreographers, tech directors, costume designers, lighting directors, and more as part of the Canandaigua Academy Players Family. As he reflected on their experience, Chris Bjorling shared, “We thank Scott, Amy, Meghan, Trish, Matt, Jay, Greg, Laurie, and a lot more for their time with the program and with our youth. Participating for this long, we have enjoyed our association and friendship with them and the various parents we have interacted with over the years. We formed many great memories, and these experiences have rounded out our kids.”

Chris and Heidi shared many memories, including when Nicholas portrayed Elvis in 2012's All Shook Up. Heidi also shared, "Overall, from my perspective sitting at the piano through the entire process (auditions to performances- consecutive years in a row), my favorite aspect is watching all the students grow and develop through the process."  And throughout this time, she has been able to see and watch her own children grow. 

The Canandaigua Academy Players present Footloose three times this weekend - Friday, March 8 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 pm and Saturday, March 9 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are available at the door and can be paid for with cash or check. 

Photos by Laurie Kroon, Cary Burke, and Caroline Chapman

Shows and parts for the Bjorling Family - 2007 - Present


  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Michael/LeFou


  • Ragtime
  • Michael/Younger Brother


  • Showboat 
  • Michael/Gaylord Ravenal
  • Nicholas/Joe
  • Carlyn 


  • Les Miserables 
  • Michael/Marius
  • Nicholas/Javert


  • Thoroughly Modern Millie
  • Nicholas/Trevor, Graydon


  • All Shook Up 
  • Nicholas/Chad
  • Spencer/Moving background body 


  • Legally Blonde 
  • Spencer/Speaking part-no name
  •  Kathryn/Perfume salesperson


  • Titanic 
  • Kathryn/Band singer and Conductor
  •  Carlyn/ Passenger
  • Jared/ Passenger
  • Taryn/ Passengers 


  • Nice Work If You Can Get It
  • Spencer/Duke & Barbershop quartet, Kathryn/Eileen Evergreen


  • The Little Mermaid
  • Kathryn/Mersister


  • Disaster


  • Ragtime
  • Carlyn/Wailing friend of Sarah's at her funeral


  • All Shook Up
  • Carlyn/Sylvia


  • Mamma Mia!
  • Carlyn/Donna


  • Misbehaving in the ‘20’s - COVID, Digital Version 
  • Taryn/ Ensemble 


  • SpongeBob The Musical
  • Taryn/Sandy Cheeks


  • The Addams Family 


  • Footloose
  • Taryn/Vi


*Heidi Bjorling as accompiantist