Footloose–The Musical, opened at Theatre Lawrence, (weekends Sept. 20 through Oct.6) and the familiar songs and sounds of the 1980s era movie musical came alive in the show that features a cast of young performers in the high energy production.
Footloose--The Musical follows the storyline, very loosely, of the Kevin Bacon movie that became a mega hit. The stage version of that musical (originating in London) was adapted in the 1990s for its debut on the stage. So, much of the content and scenes from the movie cannot be included in a stage version. Audiences need to view the Footloose--The Musical as a separate piece of work. If seen that way, the musical entertains. Those who expect a re-creation of the movie will be somewhat disappointed.
Theatre Lawrence’s production of Footloose–The Musical features the songs from the movie of the same name. The songs that people want to hear are included in the musical as well as many new pieces composed for the musical. The new music matches and fits the mood of the timed piece quite well.
To adapt Footloose from screen to stage, the script added some new characters, and minimized or deleted other characters. Some of the additions were good to give some background to the story, but some characters, minimized in the new script, would have given it more depth and make it appear more like the movie version. A mother was added for Ren. The part of Ren’s uncle was almost eliminated. Such is the case when movies are adapted for the stage and a more general audience. A lot of the conflict between Ren and the Pastor Shaw Moore does not come across as strongly in the edited movie. So, go with that in mind and enjoy the production.
In that stage version, most of the angst never shows among any of the players. This is the weakness of the script, not the production, not the director, not the actors. Theatre Lawrence produced a good version of Footloose–The Musical and the result is an enjoyable evening of entertainment.
Yes, you will find the main characters of Ren as the angry displaced youth looking for happiness, acceptance, and the freedom to dance. The preacher’s daughter, Ariel, is back as usual, and the Pastor Moore’s edict against dance from his town takes an even stronger idea in the stage version. Pastor Moore’s villain comes across as the strongest character in the stage version of Footloose.
Footloose–The Musical appeals to the generation that grew up or were young in the 1980s. The show is definitely dated, but that does not diminish the fun it brings reliving that time period. The popular Top-40 songs from the movie still work and make for some memorable moments. Such songs as “Almost Paradise,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” “Holding Out for a Hero,” “The Girl Gets Around,” “Somebody's Eyes,” and, of course, the title song, “Footloose.”
As for Theatre Lawrence’s version of Footloose–The Musical, all of the major parts came alive with talented actors and actresses. Ren and Ariel both provide good characters and sing and dance their way into the hearts of the audience. Give credit to Jacob Coons and Noelle Olsen for providing great characters. Both sang with authority and moved well in the dance numbers
For the supporting cast, Willard and Rusty brought the fun to the mix with their very likeable characters. LaKytra Hamilton as Rusty got the lion’s share of the popular singles from the show and delivered them with gusto and pizzazz. Sam Hay as Willard gets to “learn to dance” with “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” and then gets to bust loose with his solo, “Mama Says.”
Hamilton actually moves the show with her characterization and connection with the audience. She possesses a great singing voice and actually moves during her songs and gets the audience going along with her. Her voice is beautiful on the rock music of the score. As for Hay, his voice is good, but it’s Willard’s persona that endears him to the audience. Both are fun to watch on stage.
While the show does focus on the youth movement, do not discount the work and talents of Pastor Shaw Moore and his wife, Vi, Jim Hurd and Erin Fox. Both give very strong performances and possess great voices. Hurd’s character actually outshines the two young leads because his character’s past creates the conflict and for the resolution, all change comes through him. Hurd did a fine job of portraying the villain in the piece and balancing bad with good intentions. His voice is strong and clear. Fox’s voice is probably the best soprano voice in the show, though her part is not huge. She delivers good acting to go along with the vocals.
The show can tighten a bit, but it is a good production. The music could go a little faster to give the show more energy. The director did a fine job selecting a talented cast and creative crew to develop a nice workable set, props, lighting design, sound design, costumes and more. Footloose–The Musical is a fun show and all ages should enjoy a viewing. The music is good and the band performs it well, also.