FOOTLOOSE THE MUSICALStage Adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie
Based on the Original Screenplay by Dean Pitchford
Music by Tom Snow, Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
Additional Music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins and Jim Steinman
Granbury Theatre Company
Director –Ricky Pope
Music Director—Greg Doss
Choreography – Domanick Anton Hubbard
Scenic Designer—Nicholas Graves
Lighting Designer—Kalani Morrissette
Sound Designer – Haden Capps
Costume Team—Missy Brooks, Drenda Lewis, Emily Warwick
CAST (at reviewed performance)
Ren McCormack—Evan Beggs
Ethel McCormack-Connie Ingram
Reverend Shaw Moore—Tim Herndon
Vi Moore—Bentleigh Nesbit
Ariel Moore—Ashlen Loskot
Lulu Warnicker—Gale Gilbert
Wes Warnicker—Darren Clark
Coach Roger Dunbar—Charles Mason
Eleanor Dunbar—Tori Townsend
Wendy Jo—Bailey Brewer
Chuck Cranston—Riley Henderson
Principal Harry—Ryan Lynch
Willard Hewitt—Austin Bender
Betty Blast—Gale Gilbert
Cowboy Bob—Charles Mason
Girl 1—Jenna McWilliams
Girl 2—Cheyenne Shreve
Dead Bobby—Jack Snyder
Swings—David Midkiff and Joshua Emmanuel McRae Davis
Reviewed Performance: 6/23/2018
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Based on the 1984 motion picture, Footloose follows the town of Bomont (somewhere in the South), a place where dancing has been outlawed. (Yes, these places do exist). The film followed in other “musical” films of the decade-no singing and heavy dancing, a la “Flashdance,” and “Xanadu”-both which have their own musical theatre stage adaptations and have become rather popular in the last decade.
The main protagonist, Ren McCormack is a transplant from the hip streets of Chicago, and moves to Bomont with his single Mom hoping to fit in. By using the language of dance, Ren falls for wannabe bad girl (and Preacher’s daughter) Ariel Moore, and hopes to abolish the law against dancing by putting on a dance at school. Mashing several of the same elements, and adding some new elements for creative license, Footloose The Musical is a fun story that will delight and entertain audiences, and leave you remembering the 1984 film with fondness, and forgetting the dismal 2011 “country” version. Footloose The Musical pulls songs from the original motion picture soundtrack (“Footloose”, “Let’s Hear It For The Boy”, and “Almost Paradise”) and adds a few new tracks that certainly rock the house throughout the production.
Director Ricky Pope brought together a tight ensemble cast of actors who worked well together, and created a fantastic representation of the quintessential 80’s flick that helped solidify the career of the young Kevin Bacon. Although it was not exactly the same as the film (as stage adaptations often different), the production was so fully charged with energy, and it paid the appropriate homage to the film that Generation X’ers and 80’s kids have come to know and love. From the moment the lights went down, and that familiar score blasted the audience, I was ready to rock and roll. Of course, there were a few surprises. Audiences were able to see the “memorial service” of the son of town preacher and town council leader Reverend Shaw Moore-only referenced in the film, and the story was presumably set in the present day. I have to admit that I was mildly disappointed when the show was not set in the 1980’s. Because the score just screams the 1980’s, with hit songs by Kenny Loggins, Deniece Williams, and Sammy Hagar, I feel like that is almost a requirement. However, it was carried across well, even set in the present day. Set Designer Nicholas Graves successfully transformed the proscenium stage into the multiple locations in the story. While the main set never changed, different items where brought on as each location changed to give differentiation. It was impressive to see how such simple things like a kitchen table or church pews could totally transform the location. I was very impressed with the general “bridge” that was suspended above the stage was used with such versatility. It provided some nice opportunities for moments of intimacy, and allowed transitions between scenes and locations to move seamlessly.
I was absolutely awe-struck by the fantastic choreography by Domanick Anton Hubbard. Similar to the musical energy, and the choreography was also so intense and was impressive to watch. Each number was better than the last one, and truly made audiences want to get up and dance right along with the company. Additionally, it really made me root for Ren to be successful and push the town council to repeal the “no dancing” law. Now that is some impressive and moving choreography!
Missy Brooks, Drenda Lewis and Emily Warwick served as the costume team for this production. I have to say that this was the one element of design that was lacking. I felt that the wardrobe lacked cohesiveness, and rarely complimented each others characters. Some of the costumes were ill-fitting, and really did not scream “present-day” for the setting. A few costumes were more of the 1980’s, while some seemingly were from the 1990’s and beyond. I find it can be difficult to work in this area of design, because each actor’s body is different, and it really is a medium with so many variables. The costume designer can literally make or break a show. It is the first thing audiences see on actors, who are portraying these characters and making them come to life on stage. In my opinion, this was the weakest link in this production, however, it should be noted again that the other elements (singing, choreography, and acting) allowed the show to be fantastic, even with inconsistencies in the wardrobe.
Evan Beggs was phenomenal in the role of young Ren McCormack. Mr. Beggs delivered a spot on, and enthusiastic performance full of energy, intensity and spirit. Not only did Mr. Beggs deliver with an incredible singing voice, but, he also delivered with his talent and passion for dance. It was a treat to see him on stage displaying his true “triple-threat” talents, and likeable persona. I look forward to seeing Mr. Beggs in future productions at Granbury Theatre Company.
Another standout was Austin Bender in the role of Willard Hewitt, the young cowboy who befriends Ren throughout his journey to abolish the ban on dancing. Mr. Bender provided everything that I would expect for the role originally played by Chris Penn-younger brother of actor Sean Penn. Through comedic delivery, a likeable on-stage persona and an incredible vocal range, Mr. Bender brought an element of humor and light-heartedness to the role. The best moment on stage for Mr. Bender was “Mama Says” the applicable second-banana humor song. I was very impressed with Mr. Bender’s detail to character, and animated facial expressions. Ashlen Loskot was fantastic in the role of Ariel Moore. Ms. Loskot was able to portray the two personalities of the young ingenue-the good girl daughter or Reverend Moore, and the girl who longed to break out of the stereotype of the Reverend’s daughter. Ms. Loskot’s standout moments were “Almost Paradise,” (Love Theme from “Footloose”), and her rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero,” one of my personal favorites from the film. Ms. Loskot’s performance delivered, as she led the female heavy ensemble in many crowd-pleasing numbers.
This production of Footloose the Musical is definitely worth seeing. The attention to detail evident in all aspects of this production makes for a pleasant experience at the theatre. It is a great production to introduce to young audiences (who also need to see the 1984 film) and will be a show with a positive message-something we all need these days. Now you gotta cut loose and see Footloose the Musical at Granbury Theatre Company. It is very much worth the trip to Granbury.
Granbury Theatre Company
Granbury Opera House
133 E. Pearl Street
Granbury, Texas 76048
Plays through July 15.
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday Matinees at 2:00 pm
Ticket prices range from $25-$30 depending on seating (Prime: Rows A, B, C, D, Standard or Balcony: Rows CR, E, F, G, H, J, Balcony)
For groups of 10 or more, please call the box office for rates & reservations.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.granburytheatrecompany.org or call: 817-579-0952.