Footloose Review – Let’s Dance!

Kelsey Lee Smith and Brady Fritz in FOOTLOOSE - Photo by Ashley Erikson
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Initially released as a film in 1984, FOOTLOOSE starred Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Loosely based on the town of Elmore City, Oklahoma, FOOTLOOSE told the tale of a town which banned dancing in 1898 to decrease heavy drinking. The story became national news when Elmore High School’s junior class requested the first ever prom in 1980 – a request that was approved in a close vote by the school board. The film received mixed reviews – but was a huge box office success. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an average rating (5.8/10) and remarked that “FOOTLOOSE is a nice hunk of teenage cheese.” In 1998, a musical based on the film came to Broadway, receiving mixed reviews but four Tony Award nominations. In 2024, the Colony Theatre proudly presents FOOTLOOSE.

Coby Rogers, Sammy Linkowski, and Noah Heie – Photo by Ashley Erikson

When Ren McCormack (Brady Fritz) and his mom Ethel (Whitney Kathleen Vigil) move from big city Chicago to small town Beaumont, it’s quite an adjustment, especially for a teenager used to dancing the night away. Enter Ariel Moore (Kelsey Lee Smith), the very pretty preacher’s daughter, and things will immediately pick up. As it turns out, however, the Reverend Shaw Moore (Larry Cedar) has been instrumental in enforcing a no dancing ban on the town, a ban which has been chafing at the local teen population. Even with encouragement from his wife Vi (Robin De Lano), the Reverend can’t seem to bend from his conviction that dancing is dangerous. Leave it to Ren to shake up the town and everyone in it as he begins to ask questions that haven’t been heard before. Will change be coming to Beaumont?

Brady Fritz and Michael Wells – Photo by Ashley Erikson

From the stage adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie with music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford, Panic! and Barcinboo Productions presents FOOTLOOSE, the Musical. Skillfully directed by Barry Pearl with co-director and choreographer Michelle Elkin and musical direction by Ron Barnett, FOOTLOOSE jumps headfirst into the musical. FOOTLOOSE is an energetic dance-‘til-you-drop production about a bunch of frustrated high-schoolers who need to find their beat. The principals sing – and some even dance – in this tale inspired by real life. Casting is sometimes uneven, but everyone seems to be trying his best to keep things moving and shaking.

Brady Fritz and Whitney Kathleen Vigil – Photo by Ashley Erikson

Justin Huen’s scenic and lighting design, Azucena Dominguez’s costumes, and Joseph Slawinski’s sound bring the many resounding songs in the show to life. And let’s not forget the FOOTLOOSE orchestra conducted by keyboardist Ron Barnett, who does a yeoman’s job of keeping the music flowing. FOOTLOOSE will keep the audience toe tapping. Even if some of the high-schoolers are a bit long in the tooth, this is still a robust, fun production which makes sure that everyone stays wide awake and longs to join the onstage crowd.

Brady Fritz and Lisa Dyson – Photo by Ashley Erikson

FOOTLOOSE runs through March 17, 2024, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. The Colony Theatre is located at 555 N. Third Street, Burbank, CA 91502. Tickets range from $55 to $75. For information and reservations, go online.      

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