Los Angeles Theater Review: FOOTLOOSE (Glendale Centre Theatre)

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by Tony Frankel on September 13, 2017

in Theater-Los Angeles


Based on the 1984 film Footloose, this eponymous musical opened on Broadway in 1998. Both adaptation and jukebox musical, in which songs sometimes land willy-nilly without thought to plot advancement and character (that’s SO old-fashioned, isn’t it?), this fish-out-of-water, stranger-changes-stuffy-town dance show doesn’t have to be examined too closely. It’s a nostalgic, fluffy, lightweight, high-energy musical designed for a good time.

And Glendale Centre Theatre’s spirited production—simply dripping with talent—offers just that. This outing is serious about delivering a high-kicking show without taking itself seriously. It’s so—dare I say it?—cute that its innocence is infectious. Once I sat back and let it entertain me—it sure did.

As adapted for the stage by Walter Bobbie and original screenwriter Dean Pitchford, who also wrote the simplistic lyrics to all of the songs both new (music by Tom Snow) and old (pop-rock hits include “Almost Paradise,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” and “Holding out for a Hero”), Footloose remains silly and sweet-natured, but much of the dialogue and many of the lyrics strain credulity and cause eye-rolling… oops, I’m examining.

Meet young Ren McCormack (cheeky, indefatigable Chaz Feurstine), whose abandoning father causes him and mom Ethel (Christa Hamilton) to move from Chicago to small-town, U.S.A, namely Bomont. There, the free-spirited teen rebel finds a town caught in the throes of ridiculous laws (no rock music; no dancing), brought about by a grief-ridden preacher (George Champion) in reactionary response to a drunken accident three years prior (I guess they never heard of the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment here…oh, examining again).

The preacher’s daughter, Ariel (Jana Souza), is a rebellious young girl who sneaks out routinely so that she can date scumbag Chuck (Shay Thomas Gibson) and occasionally scream at passing trains and whine about men with her gal pals Rusty (Evy Moody), Urleen (Tracey Thomas), and Wendy Jo (Linda Neel). Ren makes friends with some locals, including hickabilly goober Willard (John McGavin), catches the eye of Ariel, gets in trouble with the local authority figures, and eventually, because he wants to do something important with his life, brings dancing back to Bomont, and love back to the preacher’s marriage to his wife Vi (Tracy Ray Reynolds).

Every single actor mentioned sang their lungs out and the spirited young cast burst onto the stage to strut their stuff, executing Leigh Wakeford’s charming disco and country line-dancing choreography without once ramming into each other. This is a huge cast playing on a small in-the-round space, and their movement—staged by Martin Lang—makes the show zing, and the fact that the attractive chorus wasn’t made up of typical Broadway beefcake and bouncy babes means they were believable as bored, angst-ridden small-town kids just trying to fit in.

So, while the musical itself doesn’t give the audience much reason to kick up their heels, this charming production sure does.

photos courtesy of Glendale Center Theatre

Glendale Centre Theatre
324 N. Orange St. in Glendale
ends on October 7, 2017
for tickets, call 818 244-8481 or visit GCT

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jess September 29, 2017 at 1:48 pm

I saw Footloose four weeks ago at Glendale Centre Theatre and I’m going back tomorrow, just because I enjoyed it so much.


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