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Dance and Music King in Lively ‘Footloose the Musical’ on Stage

Footloose was a groundbreaking 1984 film. Starring a relatively unknown Kevin Bacon, Footloose made dancing cool. The killer soundtrack by artists such as Kenny Logins, Bonnie Tyler, and Sammy Hagar, was perfect for expressive, emotional dancing.

The story follows high school teen Ren and his mother as they relocate from Chicago to Bomont, Utah to live with relatives after Ren’s father abandons them. A kid who expresses his emotions through dance, Ren is frustrated to learn that dancing and rock n roll music are banned in Bomont thanks to the efforts of the town’s spiritual leader Reverend Shaw Moore.

The Reverend’s daughter Ariel has a wild side as she acts out against her domineering father. She dates the crudest bad boy Bomont has to offer, but quickly develops eyes for Ren once he makes his mark on the town.

Fast forward to the present, and Footloose has made the transition from film to the stage. Now playing at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire through June 2, Footloose the Musical captures all the dance greatness and memorable music that made the film an institution.

While Kevin Bacon had a body double for the dance scenes in the movie, there is no such thing when acting on stage. For the Marriott, Aidan Wharton captures the rebellious spirit of Ren, while showing off amazing dance moves and a solid singing voice.

Opposite Wharton, Lucy Godinez is a salty seductress with a powerful, yet beautiful voice as preacher’s daughter Ariel. Godinez’s performance of Holding Out for a Hero is a divine interpretation.

Broadway’s Jim Stanek turns in a solid performance as Rev. Moore. He’s not a villain, just a misguided man with too much power.

Choreography by William Carlos Angulo makes good use to the revolving stage as he translates the mood of each number into intricate, sexy dance that the ensemble brings to life with high energy and precision accuracy. The dance numbers are amazing.

While there can be flaws in adapting a movie into a stage musical, direction by Gary Griffin makes the most of the script – turning in an enjoyable piece of entertainment that has the audience on the edge of their seats.

Music direction by Ryan T. Nelson brings to life hits from the original soundtrack re-orchestrated for the stage as well as original compositions by Tom Snow and lyricist Dean Pitchford.

In the supporting role of Ren’s best friend Willard, Ben Barker is a true standout. Willard can’t dance (yet), doesn’t know how to talk to girls, and is always spouting off questionable quotes from his crazy mother. Barker plays the character to perfection.

As Willard’s crush and Ariel’s confidant Rusty, Monica Ramirez is up to the task. Her take on the song Let’s Hear it For the Boy is simply awesome.

Other notable performances include Ryan McBride as town bad boy Chuck, Heidi Kettenring as Ren’s mother Ethel, and Johanna McKenzie Miller as the reverend’s wife Vi Moore, The ensemble cast of talented singers and dancers is absolutely stellar.

For a delightful excursion of awe-inspiring dance and music, look no further than Marriott Theatre’s production of Footloose the Musical.