Review: Footloose

The radio plays the song, you've just gotta cut loose and start dancing! Ever since Kevin Bacon's breakout role in the 1984 film, fans have been in love with the story of Footloose. This summer Starlight brings it to stage! It is the tale of Ren McCormack (played by Max Clayton) moving from Chicago to small town Bomont - a rural community where everyone knows what everyone else is doing. After the tragic death of four teens returning home from a dance, the town council votes to outlaw dancing and rock music. Five years later, Ren shows up and compels high school students to appeal to the town council and persuade an impassioned preacher to allow a real senior dance. 

Bob Compton PhotographyAlong the way, Ren meets Ariel (played by Taylor Louderman), the feisty preacher's daughter with a bad reputation and signature red cowboy boots. Ren soon find himself crossing her bully-boyfriend and  her dad. Ariel's father, Rev. Moore (played by George Dvorsky) - the local preacher and town leader, is not supportive or Ren or his plans to "corrupt the town" with dancing. Much of the show is devoted to Rev. Moore's inner struggles with protecting his child and the community from the sin's of the world, and learning to let go.

Last night, my sister and I attended the Opening Night production of the show. This is a Starlight theater production (not a traveling production) with new sets - which were fabulous, a GIANT cast (one of the biggest casts we've ever enjoyed on Starlight's stage) and a “Blue Star All-Star Ensemble” of 27 kids from area high schools. It was really nice to see local talent on Starlight's stage. The dances show off some athletic and acrobatic stunts the audience loved - my person favorite being Ren's jump in his "first time to meet Willard" scene.

Footloose: The Musical

If you're a fan of either or both of the films - 1984 and 2011 versions - you will notice many differences from film to stage in this production. Fans need to know that this stage production is its own entity - with the stage production being the much tamer of the two. While the films included many intense and dramatic scenes, the stage production remembers that there may be children in the audience and tones it all down a notch for a multi-generational audience.

The sets for the show were terrific - after watching many recent productions using digital effects for backgrounds and lighting (which are effective and fun in their own right), it was nice to see creative, old-fashioned, 3-dimensional sets and props again.

Bob Compton PhotographyAs for the cast - my absolute favorite was Ren's best friend and sidekick Willard played by Matthew Dorsey Moore. His cowboy wit and complete loyalty added heart and humor to the show and his song, "Mama Says (You Can't Back Down)" was one of the most fun and creative numbers in the entire production! I loved the scene when  Ren teaches Willard to dance at the Country Western Bar and Willard's girlfriend Rusty (played by Courtney Stokes) sings her solo, "Let's Hear it for the Boy" - Stokes nails the song delivering a standout singing performance that is truly one of the highlights of the entire evening. ("Let's Here it for the Boy" pictured left courtesy of Bob Compton Photography)

Bob Compton PhotographyRen and Ariel's duet, "Almost Paradise" is beautifully performed and set (pictured right courtesy of Bob Compton Photography). Fans also enjoy hearing the songs, "Footloose," "Holding Out for a Hero," and "I Can't Stand Still." 

While the show was not the best performance of Footloose I have ever seen, it was a fun night out with my sister at a beautiful venue and I enjoyed seeing a local and NYC cast team together to create a fun summer musical.

Footloose: The Musical is a trip down memory lane with familiar and celebrated songs throughout - recommended for a Girls' Night Out or Date Night with tickets starting as low as $10.

Tips for Starlight Theatre:

  • Keep Hydrated and cool: You may bring 1 sealed bottle of water per guest into the theater. Complimentary water stations are located at the North and East Guest Relations. Water misters are placed throughout the theater for guest convenience. And, Starlight has drinking fountains throughout the theater. You may also want to bring a fan too keep cool.
  • Is the show for Children: From Starlight, "Is Footloose Good for Kids? Toe-tapping fun for teens and nostalgic for parents, this Starlight production of Footloose is softer in tone and language than the film and the Broadway production. Great discussion items for families include teen rebellion, drinking, drug use and sexuality." 
  • Preshow Tours: Arrive early and get a free, behind-the-scenes look at Starlight and learn about Starlight’s rich history in Kansas City. Tours begin before each performance at three convenient times: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Patrons interested in touring Starlight Theatre should report to the top of the theater behind Terrace Section 1 to begin their facility tours.
  • Interpreted Performances: Saturday performances at Starlight Theatre are described for the blind and visually impaired by Kansas Audio-Reader Network. Devices for this service are available at the Audio-Reader table behind Terrace Section 2. Sunday performances at Starlight Theatre are interpreted for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Two interpreters are positioned on stage, house right. Patrons can view the interpreters from sections 4 and 6 of the Orchestra and Plaza sections. Deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons may purchase tickets by calling the Kansas Relay Center at 800.766.3777 or Relay Missouri at 800.735.2966. 
  • Assisted listening devices: Assisted listening devices are available free of charge for every performance. Visit the Ovation gift store and leave your driver's license in exchange for one of the listening devices. Following the performance, please return the device to the store and pick up your ID.
  • Courtesy shuttles: This summer six-passenger shuttles patrol the main parking areas, providing assistance for those who most need it.
  • Wheelchair assistance: Wheelchair assistance is available from all gates to the guest's seating location and back to the gate point after the show.
  • Emergencies: An EMT is on Starlight premises for all events and can be reached by radio through any of the contacts noted above. 
  • Preshow Dining: A delicious dinner buffet is offered before the show. Learn more about preshow dining.

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