Based on the 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon, Footloose is a splashy musical packed with familiar pop tunes from the ’80s, including “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” “Almost Paradise,” and — of course — the title track.
Russell J.Scott stars as Ren McCormack, who becomes a fish out of water when he moves with his mother from Chicago to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. A free spirited youth, he is stunned to discover that the teens in town are being ruled with an iron fist by the overbearing Reverend Moore (E.L. Jones). He preaches fire and brimstone from the pulpit and has banned the evils of rock and roll — and dancing. Ren is not to be deterred. He’s determined to bring dancing back to the town whether the reverend likes it or not.
He becomes enamored of the reverend’s daughter, Ariel (Jaeden Riley Juarez), much to Moore’s ever-increasing displeasure. Will Ren get his way? Will he make the town footloose once again?
With a running time of 2 1/2 hours, the show is a tad long. The first act could have been trimmed considerably. Fortunately, the second act really kicks into high gear and leaves the audiences enthusiastic.
The leads are all fine, and the whole cast sings and dances energetically. The direction by Laura Michelle Wolfe Hoadley and choreography by Tanesha Payne help to keep the piece rolling along. And Jaime Ramirez’s six-piece band hits all the right notes. Pedro Guevara’s sets and Rachael Lorenzetti’s costumes are also attractive. As usual, the Public’s production is professional and polished.
Footloose plays Fridays at Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. through June 25 at the Public Theater of San Antonio, 800 W. Ashby Pl. ASL interpreted performances are on Friday, June 23 and Sunday, June 25. Tickets are available online.
Photos courtesy Public Theater of San Antonio.