Footloose Review - Rebellion in a Small Town

Based on the book by Walter Bobbie and Dean Pitchford, FOOTLOOSE was adapted from the popular 1984 film of the same name which brought stardom to actor Kevin Bacon. With music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford (with additional lyrics by Kenny Logins), the film morphed into a lively, happy musical which was first produced on Broadway in 1998 and earned four Tony nominations. FOOTLOOSE was loosely based on the amazing but true story of Elmore City in Oklahoma, where dancing was banned for 88 years.

Jana Souza and Chaz Feuerstine as Ariel and Ren - Photo by Dennis Stover

Ren McCormack (Chaz Feurerstine) is just an average city teen who enjoys dancing in local clubs in Chicago. And then his father takes off for parts unknown, leaving him and his mother Ethel (Christa Hamilton) behind. Now the two must relocate to Bomont, a small town at the end of nowhere, when Ren’s aunt offers them a place to stay. Imagine Ren’s surprise when very conservative Bomont Minister Shaw Moore (George Champion) blasts rock and roll as evil, “an endless chant of pornography.” After four teens died in an auto accident returning from a dance, Reverend Moore decided that dance was the cause of the catastrophe and used his considerable small-town political influence to have dancing declared illegal.

John McGavin and Evy Moody - Photo by Dennis Stover

What are the teens of Bomont to do? Ren decides to take matters into his own hands and organize a dance for the kids to help alleviate their stress – but Reverend Moore will have none of it. Meanwhile, Ren discovers Moore’s daughter Ariel (Jana Souza), a plucky and very pretty teenager; and the two plot and plan to get pop to change his mind. 

Jana Souza (jumping), Linda Neel, Evy Moody, and Tracey Thomas - Photo by Dennis Stover

FOOTLOOSE explores some interesting territory, including teens striving for independence, parents learning to let go and trust their kids’ judgment, and different ways to handle bereavement. At the same time, character development is pretty minimal. This is a show to get the audience humming and toe-tapping, not a tome on psychology and child rearing. An exuberant and enthusiastic cast encourage having a great time, and this entertaining show does just that.

Chaz Feuerstine - Photo by Dennis Stover

The Glendale Centre Theatre is a theater-in-the-round, and the merry cast of 25 use every inch to warble melodies and dance their hearts out. Bits of scenery easily move from here to there, and scenic design is simple but effective. Director Martin Lang does a terrific job of keeping the action moving and the laughs coming, while musical directors Martin Lang (a dual role) and Steven Applegate keep the music flowing. Special kudos to choreographer Leigh Wakeford, who has the huge cast kicking up its heels with glee. This is a musical which carries on the Glendale Centre Theatre’s musical tradition of big casts, lots of merriment, and songs galore.

FOOTLOOSE runs through October 7, 2017 with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. The Glendale Centre Theatre is located at 324 N. Orange St., Glendale, CA 91203. Tickets are $32 (seniors $25 and children under 16 $20). For information and reservations, call 818-244-8481 or go online.  

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