Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Footloose"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Company Theatre's Teen Conservatory of their Academy's first show of 2010 is "Footloose", a musical based on the 1984 movie. This show tells the story of Ren,a fun-loving boy from Chicago, who finds himself having to move to Bomont, Oklahoma, a small, conservative, town with his mother. Dancing and rock'n roll are banned in this town until this teenager opens their eyes with his zest for life. Breaking every taboo, Ren brings dance to the heart of a town held back by the memory of a tragedy. Although most dance musicals have almost no plot, this one has a serious side to it which helps to give it a wonderful blend of upbeat numbers and meaningful ballads."Footloose is a show with a lot of heart, boasting many Oscar nominated songs in its score and with insightful direction by Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman who also creates the gorgeous sets, brilliant musical direction by Michael Joseph and his six piece orchestra and fabulous choreography by Sally Ashton Forrest, this talented young exuberant 30 member cast with five adult cast members sell this show to a very appreciative audience.

. Zoe works her magic with this script by infusing it with the needed depth to give the characters more than one dimension. Jordie's beautiful sets consist of easily moved set pieces and slide projection backdrops. Michael conducts his 6 piece orchestra, plays one of the keyboards and makes these young people excel whether in the group numbers or the emotionally charged ballads. Sally works wonders with this enormous cast with the group numbers which include the title number that opens and closes this show, "Let's Hear It For the Boy" where Ren teaches Willard how to dance, "Holding Out for a Hero", and "Dancing Is Not a Crime" the rap song where the kids try to convince the town council to overturn their ban on dancing, the boys dance in "Mama Says".

Leading this cast is Darren Bunch as Ren McCormack and Kayleigh Brennan as Ariel Moore. Darren opens the show with a rousing rendition of "Footloose". His dancing is astounding as he moves around the stage like a whirling dervish not only in this song but in all of his numbers. explains why dancing is important to Ren in his "I Can't Sit Still" song and convinces his classmates to bring life back to Bomont in "Heaven Help the Man" song which closes the first act with an excellent group dance. Darren shows off his most dramatic moment in his final confrontation scene with the minister while his funniest moment comes while he is roller skating and bumps into Willard. Kayleigh is a gorgeous raven haired gal who gives this girl a backbone whether she is standing up to her parents or her thug boyfriend. She displays a fantastic singing voice when she belts out "Holding Out for a Hero" with Rusty, Wendy and Urleen who hold ice-cream cone microphones in their hands and with Darren in the duet "Almost Paradise". Kayleigh shows off her wonderful dancing talents in this show, too. and make you want to cheer when they finally get together after all their trials and tribulations.

Steve Shannon plays the pivotal role of Reverend Shaw Moore who convinced the town to ban dancing after his son was killed in a tragic car accident years ago. He shows this man's devastation of losing his son and shows off his powerful singing voice in "On Any Sunday and "Heaven Help Me". He shows the realization of having to let go of the past to bring his family close together again by living life to the fullest. Steve is fantastic in this role where he shows off his dramatic side, having played comic roles in "The Music Man" and "Arsenic and Old Lace", The two sympathetic mothers in this show, Vi Moore and Ethel McCormack are played by Emily Arsenault and Karen Cavallo. Emily's voice soars in her song, "Can't You Find It in Your Heart" a tear jerker song where she wants to be loved as she was years ago.Karen's acting as the long suffering mother of this teenage boy is wonderful. She makes a strong impression as this underused character in the show and shines while doing so. Some of the other adult roles include Ryan Barrow as the constantly yelling coach while James Valentin is the strict by the rules principal. He is a hoot in this role stealing many a scene.

The biggest scene stealer in the show is Nathan Pacheco, an eighth grader who plays country bumpkin, Willard Hewitt who is always itching for a fight. His southern drawl and comic line delivery are fantastic. Willard can barely string a sentence together around girls and is also embarrassed because he never learned how to dance. But when Nathan does dance he does a superb job. His comic song which is a hoot, is called "Mama Says" which is about the dumb things his mother told him to do including never bring a toaster into a bathtub. When Willard finally confesses his love to Rusty, she picks him up and carries him offstage. Rusty, his girlfriend is played by pretty brunette, Madison Rockwell who has a powerful voice which she uses in her solo number, "Let's Hear It for the Boy" and in the trio number called "Somebody's Eyes'' where she warns Ren to be careful because there is always someone in town keeping track of his activities. Her two sidekicks Urleen and Wendy Jo are wonderfully played by Allison Abate and Rebecca Dickinson who get many laughs with their antics. The show's bad boy, Chuck Cranston is played by Matt McCarty who plays this thug-like character very convincingly. He shows off his dancing and singing with the boys in "This Girl Gets Around". Another topnotch vocalist in this show is pretty blonde Caitlin Ford who has a gorgeous soprano voice which she uses in the scat song "Let's Make Believe We're in Love" with a wonderful quartet backing her up. Kudos to the cast and crew who make this a show to be very proud of. So for rip-roaring return to 1984, be sure to catch "Footloose" at Company Theatre performed by their Teen Conservatory, who show off their talents in this show.

"Footloose" (22 - 24 January)
@ 30 Accord Park Drive, NORWELL MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide