Home > Uncategorized > Welk’s ‘Footloose’ is high energy entertainment

Welk’s ‘Footloose’ is high energy entertainment

By Carol Davis

Carol Davis

ESCONDIDO, California–One might wonder if  Footloose-The Musical would go over big at The Welk Resorts Theatre in Escondido. If you were sitting where I was on a matinee performance a short time ago, you would say, “Bring it on!” Heads were bobbing, swaying and sometimes shoulders lifting to the beats of the very high-energy production (of the same name) directed and choreographed by Dan Mojica. Most in the audience that day (myself included) had, well mostly silver hair!

 The musical based on the movie, has something for everyone. There’s God and church, rebellious teenagers, caring parents, goofy kids and even some back street fighting.

 The stage adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, based on the original screenplay by Dean Pitchford with music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford (additional music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Logins and Jim Steinman) gives us a pretty stock book.

Ren McCormack, (Luke Yellin) a high school senior and his Mom Ethel (Eileen Bowman) are forced to move from their home in Chicago because their father/husband abandoned them and financially they couldn’t stay where they were. We find them in the small town called Bomont (taken in by his kindly aunt) where Ren finds himself the outsider in a town where insiders are in and outsiders are well shunned, and to this big city boy, pretty backward.

It seems some time ago there was a tragic auto accident in the town of Bomont and four of their teenagers were killed after the senior prom. One of those killed was the Reverend’s (Gary Lee Reed) son. The council, headed by the good Reverend decided to ban all dancing, records and booze in Bomont and senior prom time was just around the corner.

That meant a dry, danceless senior prom night. That just didn’t sit right with Ren. He moves ahead, much to the chagrin of the council, and organizes the kids and Ariel to plead for a high school dance.

Making matters worse for Ren, he’s smitten with the Rev’s rebellious daughter Ariel (Marci Anne Wuebben) who’s creeping around meeting up with one of the town’s rebel and delinquent, Chuck Cranston (Joey Elrose) unbeknownst to her dad. Yup!

She sneaks out of the house every chance she gets to meet up with big Chuck who also happens to be a big bully. Why it takes her so long to hook up with Ren, baffled my sense of justice, but I’m just a silly old romantic.

In the 1984 movie version Kevin Bacon played the displaced Ren with John Lithgow as the Reverend and Sarah Jessica Parker as Rusty one of the female support actors and Ariel’s best friend. Shanna Marie Palmer is Welk’s Rusty.

For a show over twenty-five years old, it doesn’t feel that way. Several of the story lines are as relevant and predictable today as they were in 1984; teens vs. parents, to rebel or not, insider/outsider conflicts and growing up is hard to do. 

Musical director Justin Gray keeps the pace lively and the show moves at a pretty fast clip especially where it shines and that’s with the great dancing of all the cast members.

Overall the voices are strong with sound performances turned in by Yellin, Bowman, Reed, Cynthia Ferrer as Vi Moore, Ariel’s mother and Allen Everman (great performance) as their hayseed friend, Willard Hewitt. It was good seeing john Grzesiak on the stage again (long time no see), except for the fact that he was a priss as the High School principal who refused to let the kids have any fun. 

In case you were wondering, “Let’s hear it for the Boy” and  “Almost Paradise” are the two musical numbers most recognizable but all are pretty lively and catchy. Sharell Martin’s costumes represent any time period, Patrick Hoyny designed the sound, is just right, Mike Buckley does his usual wonders with the set design showing off the many locations and Jennifer Edwards-Northover’s lighting shines positively on this high-energy production. 

 “Footloose” is pretty footloose and deserves a look-see.

See you at the theatre.

 *

Dates: May 6th– June 27th

Organization: Welk Resorts Theatre

Phone: 888-802-7469 or 760-749-3448

Production Type: Musical

Where: 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive, Escondido, California

Ticket Prices: 

Web: welktheatresandiego.com

 *
Theatre critic Davis is based in San Diego

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