FOOTLOOSE at the Kennedy Center - Put On Your Dancing Shoes
What a treat to have another six performance musical under the auspices of the Kennedy Center's "Broadway Center Stage" performed at the Eisenhower Theatre. This series brings top notch Broadway talent with little scenery for only eight shows and has become quite a popular adventure for musical theater lovers.
Last night I saw FOOTLOOSE bring down the house with an exhuberent cast including Broadway veterans and newcomers as well.
Fresh from his role in the Broadway cast of HAMILTON is J. Quinton Johnson where he played Hercules Mulligan and James Madison. Here Johnson gets his chance to shine in is a role that reminded me of Ben Vereen in the original cast of PIPPIN. He lights up the stage whenever he is on it.
Madison plays "Ren McCormack" who leaves the tough streets of Chicago for the town of Bomont, Utah with his mother and gets some shock to learn his new home has outlawed dancing and singing due to the death of four youngsters who died in a car crash. He is accompanied by his mother, (the amazing Judy Kuhn (LES MISERABLES, FUN HOME and a four-time Tony nominee). His father left the family.
The leader of the forbidden music edict is the Rev. Shaw Moore played by the terrific Michael Park, fresh from his role on Broadway in DEAR EVAN HANSEN. Another Broadway veteran, Rebecca Luker (three-time Tony Award nominee) plays his wife "Vi".
Watch out for future stardom for Isabelle McCalla fresh from her breakout role in THE PROM) who plays the Reverend's daughter. She is simply a dynamo on stage with amazing talent. She and "Ren" hit it off immediately.
Other standouts include the naïve cowboy "Willard" played by Peter McPoland who demonstrates amazing comedic talent and "Rusty" (the wonderful Nicole Vanessa Oritz) who gets a chance to sing the hit number "Let's Hear It For the Boy".
Credit must be given to the musical's original Broadway director, Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie for returning to helm this production which features a revised book by Bobbie and Academy Award winner Dean Pritchard based on his screenplay for the hit 1984 film which featured Kevin Bacon.
Bobbie commented that he's "...encouraged by the musical's popularity. Dean and I tweaked the script, cut a song, and added a new opening for Act 2. Exciting changes that tell a better story for our audiences. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to direct this new version of our show at the Kennedy Center, where we originally had the world premiere of FOOTLOOSE pre-Broadway.
FOOTLOOSE is filled with an energetic ensemble who fly all over the stage to the delicious choreography by Spencer Liff and music director Sonny Paladino and the terrific six piece band nestled on top of the stage.
Don't worry you will hear the title tune that opens the show and ends it plus "Almost Paradise" and "Holding Out For a Hero". The score is by Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford with additional music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins, and Jim Steinman.
One of my favorite designers is Paul Tate de Poo III who did the set design and great projections. If you've seen his work for TITANIC and BLACKBEARD at the Signature Theatre you know what I mean. He also did TOMMY and MUSIC MAN at the Kennedy Center.
Completing the creative time are David Woolard (Costumes), Cory Pattak (Lighting), and Jon Weston (Sound).
The Broadway Center Stage series, now in its third season, has become a hit with both critics and audiences alike with sold-out, star-studded performances of THE WHO'S TOMMY, THE MUSIC MAN, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, IN THE HEIGHTS, and CHESS. Following FOOTLOOSE, the 2019-20 season will continue with Tony Award winner Rachel Bay Jones in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, NEXT TO NORMAL .
FOOTLOOSE will play the Eisenhower Theater until October 13. Tickets for all performances are on sale at (202) 467-4600.
MY FAIR LADY comes to the Opera House running from December 17 to January 19, 2020.