Kicking off the show with back flips and the catchy tunes of the same name, “Footloose” grabs the audience’s attention and keeps it there for the entire hour and a half performance.
Centered around a big city kid who is uprooted and transplanted into small-town America after his father leaves his family, Ren McCormack can’t seem to do anything right. Played by baby-faced Erik Keiser, Ren’s character is energetic and witty, making the audience believe that the Chicago-raised Ren is truly unhappy with the Bible Belt town of Beaumont.
Ren’s struggles to adapt to small-town life are augmented by the angst felt by Beaumont’s teens who have grown tired of all the rules: No dancing within city limits, early curfew and surely there should be no fun.
Reverend Shaw Moore, played by Glenn Wall, strictly imposes all the rules, and to further complicate matters Moore’s rebellious and attention-grabbing daughter Ariel, played by Lindsay Luppino, catches Ren’s eye.
Wall gives Moore’s character a fiery and furious passion that makes his grief over losing a son seem a rational reason to impose such strict rules on the town’s ever-curious teens.
As the teens plot to change the town ordinance against dancing, they dance and sing through the hallways of Beaumont High School, in the local burger joint and even scream at the trains passing by as a way to relieve a little stress.
The musical numbers, which include songs made famous from the Tony award winning Broadway original and the 1984 movie starring Kevin Bacon as Ren, are expertly sung and include “Holding on for a Hero,” “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” and “Almost Paradise.”
While the actors flex their singing muscle, it is also the choreography that is dazzling. It can’t be easy to sing and dance with such energy at the same time, but somehow the amazing cast makes it seem incredibly easy and they do a flawless job.
The vocal standout is Kara Guy, who plays Rusty. Guy’s ability to augment and compliment any octave achieved by other cast members is astounding, and it nearly makes the audience wonder why she was cast as Ariel’s flighty sidekick instead of as Ariel.
Rusty’s crush, Willard Hewitt, is also played by an actor who commands the audience’s attention. Michael Kennan Miller brings a loveable charm to the goofy Hewitt, who the audience learns early on is a little slow at putting together complete and meaningful sentences.
Yet, Miller’s ability to bring Hewitt to life during the musical number “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” warms everyone’s hearts. Not only does Hewitt learn to dance, but apparently he can back flip his way into Rusty’s heart, as well.
For people who haven’t seen the musical, but might have seen the movie, this is a performance not to be missed. The company will perform three more shows: tonight, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.
Tickets are still available for the three remaining shows and can be purchased for $49 for adults and $35 for children under the age of 12. Tickets can be purchased by calling 800-648-1177 or 356-3300, or by visiting janugget.com.