Cut loose with ‘Footloose’

Aiden Wharton as Ren McCormack (center). (Liz Lauren photo)
Cast of ‘Footloose’ at Marriott Theatre. led by Aiden Wharton as Ren McCormack (center). (Liz Lauren photo)

3 stars

If you bring the family (middle-school age and up) to see “Footloose” at Marriott Theatre, you will likely have interesting talking points after the show. This is a high energy musical that is perfect for adolescent audiences tired of rules, curfews and their town or suburb.

Based on the 1984 movie starring Kevin Bacon, the story’s roots are the ideology and actions of a small, rural town in Oklahoma that had banned dancing for almost a century.

In the musical, originally written for the film by Dean Pitchford, with music by Tom Snow, Jim Steinman, Kenny Loggins and Pitchford, (additional music by Sammy Hagar and Eric Carmen and others) Chicago teenager Ren McCormack moves to Bomont, Utah with his mom, Ethel, after their dad leaves home.

Bomont’s restrictions came about after four teenagers, including the pastor’s son, died in an auto accident following a dance. Blood tests revealed alcohol and drugs.

Ren, played with verve by Aiden Wharton, falls for the pastor’s daughter Ariel, well portrayed by Lucy Godinez as an intelligent teen who loves her father but wants to leave her abusive boyfriend and the confining town.

Some of the best lines are in the songs such as when Ren sings, “Running away will never make you free.”

To change, at least some restrictions, Ren, Ariel and their classmates appeal to the Bomont City Council to rescind the dance ban law so they can have a senior prom.

Along the way, audiences are treated to a rousing, Godinez-led, “Holding Out for a Hero” (by Bonnie Tyler) and the musical’s love duet “Almost Paradise” (by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson).

The fine cast includes such Chicago veterans as Heidi Kettenring as Ethel, Johanna McKenzie Miller as Reverend Shaw Moore’s wife and Ryan McBride as the abusive drop-out Chuck Cranston. Off Broadway regular Jim Stanek is the town’s pastor, Reverend Moore.

A shout-out has to go to Ben Barker (Marriot, Paramount)  who creatively interpreted Willard Hewitt as the country bumpkin who befriended Ren.

As musical theater based on a comedic/drama film, the story-line is short on character development. But under the direction of Gary Griffin the characters’ problems and personae should resonate with today’s teens.

William Carlos Angulo’s choreography should also have teenage appeal.

DETAILS: “Footloose” is at Marriott Theatre 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire, through June 2, 2019. Running time: 2 hr., 15 min.with one intermission. For tickets and other information call (847) 634-0200 and visit Marriott Theatre.

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *