It's entertaining but lacks the energy of the original.
It was the decade in the '80s where teen movies were at its perk. Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, however, before these movies hit the screen one of the top movies was the 1984 release called Footloose.
An American musical comedy-drama film directed by Herbert Ross, Footloose was a story about a young Chicagoan name Ren McCormack who moved to a small town where a religious leader has banned dancing and rock music. Marriott Theatre brings to the Lincolnshire its version of this 80's hit with Footloose the musical.
Base loosely from actual events that took place in the small, rural, and religious community, director Gary Griffin brings to the stage the same premise from 1984 movie about a free-spirited, rambunctious lad name Ren, who battles a powerful minister by the name Reverend Moore. Moore has convinced the town to place a ban on dancing and music after four young teens died after partying.
Ren (Aidan Wharton) who is forced to leave his friends after his father abandoned the family and he and his mother Ethel (Heidi Kettenring) have to move to a town called Bomont; a town that seemed to have nothing for kids to enjoy. Ren has to learn how to make friends as the new guys, and the people in the community aren't very friendly to outsiders.
Life as the new kids get even more challenging when Ren faces issues with teachers at his new school and a boy that attacked him after seeing him walking home with the preacher's daughter; the rebellious Ariel, played by Lucy Godinez. Ariel and Ren become friends, and together with a few kids in Bomont, Ren works up a plan where the kids can have a dance by seeking to fight the town's ordinances law against dancing.
Adapted by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie based on Pitchford's screenplay and lyrics, the play starts off with the display name of Harold Washington, mayor of Chicago which seems to provide a subliminal message about fighting against those that believe you are an outsider like Harold Washington was as the first African-American mayor. The popular songs like "Let's Hear It For The Boy," "Almost Paradise" and "Holding Out for a Hero" and original music from Tom Snow; however, this Footloose seem to have lost its footing.
The singing and dancing seem amateurish and off-key at times, and many of the scenes lack the high energy you expect from Footloose. The pairing of Wharton and Godinez as Ren and Ariel, never seem to bring the same enduring charm as Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer and their chemistry seem off at times. The best performance came from Ben Barker who played Willard Hewitt. Jim Stanek as Reverend Shaw and Johanna McKenzie Miller as his wife Vi was good together and their relationship as the father and mother of an unruly preacher's kid true to form.
Griffin's Footloose does have some flashes of fun when Willard learns to dance and some touching moments when Reverend Moore and Ren discuss their loss which ultimately leads to the reverend change of heart. The finale of dancing and singing was a nice touch; however, that type of energy should have been throughout the play.
Let's Play Somewhat Recommend Footloose the musical at Marriott Theatre. It's a good treat for the family and friends.
The Marriott Theatre Presents
Stage Adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie
Directed by Gary Griffin
Running April 10 through June 2, 2019
Filed under: ChicagoNow