Fancy Footwork Set for FOOTLOOSE at Missoula Community Theatre, 4/26-5/12
Back in 1984, a teen-oriented movie with a strong emphasis on dancing became a box-office triumph. Footloose not only showcased a soundtrack loaded with rollicking numbers, it also had a relatable plotline about family, fear and self-growth which resonated with audiences of all ages.
Fourteen years later, Footloose, The Musical premiered on Broadway and a similar success ensued.
The Missoula Community Theatre's stage musical takes many of the film's themes and emphasizes their purpose, as well as introduces several new characters.
"There weren't all that many songs in the movie," said director Joe Martinez. "Our production has all the songs from the film, like 'Somebody's Eyes,' 'I Need a Hero' and 'Let's Hear It for the Boy,' plus new ones. We want all the songs to be driven by the story. We don't want to sidestep or overlook the heart and growth within the story."
Footloose tells the tale of Ren McCormick (Kyler Zundel), a teenager who moves from Chicago to 'Bomont', Texas (a spin on real-life Beaumont), after his father's death. He quickly finds out that the tiny town has a "no rock music or dancing" policy, initiated by the Rev. Shaw Moore (TJ Charlson) after four teenagers were killed in a post-dance auto accident. When Ren revolts against this edict, he draws the attention and, in time, the tenderness of Ariel (Quinn Vaira), Moore's high-spirited daughter.
"People forget that this was a beautiful, amazing story with strong family values," Martinez pointed out. "It shows the relationships between a husband and wife, a boyfriend and girlfriend, and a father and daughter. It touches on subjects such as integrity, responsibility and respect. It's not just a rock 'n roll show for kids."
Choreographer Heather Adams' dance numbers suit the show sweetly, as do all of the swaying, swinging dances she brings to life throughout the two-and-a-half-hour production for this agile-footed cast, including Footloose's opening and closing numbers.
With a large contingent of 'adult', 'rockin' and 'free' ensemble cast members, the Missoula Community Theatre's stage leaves as much free space as possible for dancing. To accomplish this, Martinez uses spare and low-profile set pieces. He also made the decision not to pander the action to 1980's nostalgia.
"You know," says Martinez. "Many plays parody, or make fun of, or even caricature the 1980's. I plan on focusing on the story and not parodying the time."
For a product that began as a mode of teen escapism, the story of Footloose still thrives with aspiration, hope, and a plea for empathy and tolerance, Martinez said.
Indeed, everyone in this show learns precious life lessons and develops character.
"Footloose is a celebration of life," says Martinez.
Footloose opens at the Missoula Community Theatre Friday, April 26, and runs through Sunday, May 12. Where: MCT Center for the Performing Arts, 200 North Adams Street, Missoula. Tickets on sale April 8. For tickets and information, call the box office at (406) 728-7529 or visit www.mctinc.org.
Story and photo by Brian D'Ambrosio, Media Relations Coordinator at MCT