Review Roundup: Did the Critics Cut Loose at the Kennedy Center's FOOTLOOSE?

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Review Roundup: Did the Critics Cut Loose at the Kennedy Center's FOOTLOOSE?

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' Broadway Center Stage presents Footloose, the explosive Broadway musical set to the rockin' rhythm of the film's Oscar® and Grammy®-nominated Top 40 score and augmented with dynamic new Tony®-nominated songs for the stage musical.

Footloose stars J. Quinton Johnson (Choir Boy, Hamilton, Broadway Center Stage: In the Heights) as Ren McCormack, Isabelle McCalla (The Prom, Aladdin) as Ariel Moore, Michael Park (Dear Evan Hansen) as Reverend Shaw Moore, three-time Tony Award® nominee Rebecca Luker as Vi Moore (Mary Poppins, the Kennedy Center's Little Dancer), and four-time Tony Award® nominee Judy Kuhn (Fun Home, Les Misérables) as Ethel McCormack.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Eliot Lanes, BroadwayWorld: Broadway powerhouse performers like Rebecca Luker and Judy Kuhn deserve star turns every time they step onstage. Luker kind of gets one with "Can You Find it In Your Heart" but Judy Kuhn's only feature is with Luker and McCalla in "Learning to be Silent". I'm well aware that's how the character is written but come now. I should also give extra kudos to Luker for performing while recovering from surgery. Other standout performances include Isabelle McCalla who recently knocked me out on Broadway in The Prom. Her duet with Johnson called "Almost Paradise" is a definite vocal highlight.

Peter Marks, Washington Post: Not much effort is committed to devising a believable psychological landscape - why, for instance, Park's Rev. Moore requires only one paragraph of plaintive beseeching by Ren to undo all the punitive measures he has inflicted on Bomont. McCalla - an endearing player in last season's "The Prom" on Broadway - is given ample opportunity to display vivacity as frustrated teenager Ariel, but Park, Luker and Kuhn are saddled with playing poor, unfortunate grown-ups stuck in a tired tale in which the high schoolers are the real teachers. If you're holding out for a hero entertainment, maybe wait and see what turns up at the Kennedy Center next.

Mara Bayewitz, DC Metro: This is arguably the most dynamic ensemble cast this reviewer has seen in the years of writing in the Washington area. Each member of the ensemble has excitement, energy, color, humor, soul, and flair that make it as impossible to decide where to focus one's attention as it would be in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. It would be excessive to call them all out individually while keeping the reader's attention, so any member of the ensemble not mentioned here may assume that their names are in invisible ink.

Kristin Franco, MD Theatre Guide: As with other Broadway Center Stage presentations, this show was considered "semi-staged," which means that the sets and costumes are minimal, and the performers sometimes have binders to assist them with lines and music. This in no way means that this was not a fully fleshed out production. This production was dynamic from start to finish, with standout performances throughout and electric choreography.

Gail Choochan, "Footloose" is not a full-on production, but a semi-staged concert, and notes that actors will perform with scripts in their hands. In past shows, this was minimal or just absent, but for this one, it seems more rampant with both the main actors and ensemble carrying those clunky black binders. While "Footloose" may not be up there with earlier Broadway Center Stage entries (such as "In the Heights," "The Music Man" and "The Who's Tommy"), which all had much stronger material, this breezy musical is an incredibly fun trip down memory lane.

Ross, Times Square Chronicles: It's no great masterpiece, this movie-to-stage transfer, with many of the songs feeling like they are trying too hard to rise to the occasion in terms of intricacy and dynamic, but rarely finding the heart and the soul. They lack the catchiness of the pop songs from the movie, never being completely or remotely horrible, but not exactly inspiring nor memorable either. But the staging, thanks to some clear and concise work by scenic and projection designer Paul Tate dePoo III (Kennedy Center's Tommy), costume designer David C. Woolard (Broadway's Lysistrata Jones), lighting designer Cory Pattak (Kennedy Center's Little Shop of Horrors), and sound designer Jon Weston (Broadway's She Loves Me), finds its sure footedness and fun along the way, keeping the festive piece of nostalgia moving along, never giving us any opportunity to see the thinness of the plot or the silliness of the step.

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