FORT ATKINSON -
In the case of the musical “Footloose,” the stage version by Tom Snow, Dean
Pitchford and Walter Bobbie followed the movie, instead of the other way
In 1984, Kevin Bacon dazzled
his fans in the film version with his cool moves, while later in 1998, the show
opened on Broadway for a long run and accrued several Tony awards.
The Fireside Dinner Theatre
opened its version Feb. 28 with a long run that ends April 14. It is a lively,
well-choreographed production that’s sure to put you on the side of dancing as a
perfectly legitimate form of entertainment, one even fostered in the Bible.
The story opens with Ren
McCormack, a young sophisticated teen, moving from Chicago to Bomont, Texas, and
follows with his cultural shock and his power to affect the mores of that small
town. The most prominent family in the town is the Rev. Moore, his wife Vi and
his rebellious daughter, Ariel. They soon butt heads.
Because of an accident in the
town, resulting in the death of four teens many years before Ren’s arrival,
strict rules forbidding drinking and dancing were laid down to prevent a
recurrence of such a tragedy. Of course, the current teens, including Ren and
Ariel, oppose these unreasonable restrictions against dancing and decide to take
on the preacher and the town council. This process drives the main plot of the
Several songs have survived
the musical; namely, “Footloose” and “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” but there are
many other satisfying numbers like the romantic “Somebody’s Eyes” and “Almost
Paradise,” as well as the poignant “Heaven Help Me,” “Can You Find It in Your
Heart” and “Learning to Be Silent.”
Some cast members stood out
among a very competent collection of fine vocalists and high-energy dancers.
Alexander Hulett as Ren and Kim Sava as Ariel are outstanding. The Rev. Shaw
Moore (Victor Hernandez) and his wife Vi (Mary Jane Guymon) also move us in
their struggles as a couple and as parents.
In the humor department,
Neville Braithwaite adds a unique flavor to the mix as Willard. His rendition of
“Mama Says” is precious, and his hookup with Rusty, played by the dynamic Jenna
Spitale, provides a striking contrast in personalities. I have to mention
Matthew Tiberi as a convincing tough guy.
The very athletic dance
numbers are creatively choreographed by Kate Swan and constitute much of the
enjoyment of the show, and the musical direction by Mary Ehlinger provides us
with many spirited solos and ensemble numbers. The overall direction was
provided by the ubiquitous Ed Flesch, whose destiny seems to be success.
Although I hadn’t seen this
musical for years, I have enjoyed it immensely both times I’ve seen it. In the
midst of the heaviness of repressed anger and sadness, it has a redemptive
quality about it and enough humor to alleviate some of its more somber moments.
“Footloose” continues through
April 14 at the Fireside Dinner Theatre, 1131 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson.
For tickets, call 800-477-9505 or visit