Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Footloose"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Bay Colony Productions' current show is "Footloose", a musical based on the 1984 movie about a fun-loving boy from Chicago, who finds himself having to move with his mother to Bomont, Oklahoma, a small conservative town. Dancing and rock 'n roll are banned in this town until this teenager opens the eyes with his exuberance and zest for life. The original Broadway production opened on October 22, 1998 and ran for 709 performances. Although most dance musicals have almost no plot, this one has a serious side to it which helps give it a perfect blend of comic and poignant moments with upbeat dance numbers and meaningful ballads. "Footloose" is a show with a lot of heart, boasting many memorable Oscar nominated songs in its score. This powerhouse production in Foxboro is a perfect blend of acting, singing and dancing at its best with insightful direction, musical direction and choreography by Bill Cunningham, Rob Goldman and Dori Bryan, winning it a well deserved standing ovation by a very appreciative audience.

Bill blocks and directs his 33 member cast with ease, making one scene flow into another and keeping the pace of the show in constant motion. Musical director Rob Goldman not only conducts 8 piece orchestra but plays the lead keyboard and taught the cast their intricate harmonies, making them sound fantastic. The cast members not only have strong and powerful voices but they can all dance up a storm, too. Dori choreographs the multitude of numbers in the show including a wonderful hoe down to the male chorus number "Mama Says" as well as the girls dynamic dance to "Holding Out for a Hero" and the energetic title number. The athletic moves by the dancers are astounding and are also well executed. Dori also plays Ren's sympathetic mother, Ethel. The 1980's costumes and the set with its numerous backdrops and sliding on and off pieces are the creations of the talented Daniel Kozar. The lighting design is by Michael Texieira while the sound is by Ed DiMarzio and the many props are by Gail Gilman.

The talented cast is led by George Scala lll and Kelly Cavanaugh as Ren McCormack and Ariel Moore. George is 21 years old and has wanted to play Ren ever since he listened to the CD in 1998. He does a dynamite job in this role as the misunderstood kid from the big city who triumphs over all the obstacles in his path and brings life back to this small town. George has a lot of charisma in this role and gets a chance to show off his powerful tenor voice in "Footloose" which opens and closes the show as well as in "I Can't Stand Still" where he explains to the kids why dancing is important to him and in "I'm Free" where he persuades the kids to escape the confines of Bomont and find a place to dance. His argument scene with the minister is dramatic while a roller skating scene is humorous as he is pushed around and slams into a wall. Kelly, a pretty brunette, gives this ingenue a backbone to standup to her parents strict rules and to her thug boyfriend's bullying. Her dancing is excellent in "The Girl Gets Around" number where she is thrown around from varying heights as well as in "Holding Out for a Hero" where she gets to show off her strong belting voice. Kelly and George get to show off a mellower, tender side in their duet, "Almost Paradise". The poignant side of the show is handled by Alan Thomas as Reverend Shaw Moore and by Elizabeth Morrell as his wife, Vi. Alan plays this strict, domineering father with an iron fist wonderfully. He gets to show off his strong singing voice in "On Any Sunday" and "Heaven Help Me". During the first act you wonder why the minister behaves in this manner and the answer is revealed in the second act where you discover his son was killed in a car crash after a dance 5 years before. Alan's song "I Confess" shows his struggle in dealing with the aftermath of his son Bobby's tragic accident and how he has to readjust by bringing the rest of his family together and not pushing them away. Elizabeth handles the role of long suffering minister's wife wonderfully and gets to sing a tearjerking ballad, "Can You Find It in Your Heart" where she yearns to be loved by her husband like she was when they were first married.

The hilarity of the show is handled by Michael Warner as Willard and Carolyn Cole as Rusty. Michael is a hoot as the country bumpkin who can barely string two sentences together and is ashamed he can't dance. He delivers his funny one liners perfectly and when he does learn how to dance, there is no holding him back. Michael's comic number is a show stopping dancing, song called "Mama Says" about the dumb things she tells him not to do like putting a toaster in the bathtub. (An amazing moment occurs when the boys lift the over six foot Michael up while he is lying on a bench and then carry him around the stage.) His three backwoods sidekicks are played by topnotch dancers, Joey Miriabile, Albert Jennings and Jason Cabral. Carolyn is a dynamic actress with a powerhouse voice that she displays her "Let's Hear It For the Boy" where Ren teaches Willard how to dance. (She is up for the role of Tracy Turnblad in the Broadway production of "Hairspray" and you can see why after you hear her magnificent voice) Rusty's lines are rapid fire and Carolyn delivers them with ease. She also sings in the Hero song and in the trio number called "Somebody's Eyes" where she warns Ren somebody in town is always watching his every move. Her two sidekicks Urleen and Wendy Jo are played comically by Rebecca Kubaska and Sheree Bass who get many laughs as the man crazy teens. The hoodlum in the show, Chuck Cranston is well played by Chas Kircher. He is a chauvinistic pig who treats women badly as well as a drug dealer. Chas shows off his strong singing voice and dancing prowess with his two cohorts, Joseph Arsenault and Jason Cabral in "This Girl Gets Around" where they throw Kelly around the stage. Kudos to the whole ensemble for making this a stellar show.

So for a fantastic trip back to 1984 and some dynamite dancing to scintillating songs, be sure to catch "Footloose" in Foxboro. You will be glad you did,

"Footloose" (5 - 21 August)
The Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide