Review: You will 'loose your blues' at FOOTLOOSE at CMPAC

The production runs from January 13-27

By: Jan. 24, 2024
Review: You will 'loose your blues' at FOOTLOOSE at CMPAC

In 1984, Footloose starring Kevin Bacon, danced its way on to the big screen. While it was not well received by the film critics, it did manage to resonate with audiences. Footloose became the 7th highest grossing movie of 1984, grossing over $80 million dollars at the box office (the equivalency of approximately $235 million dollars today). The film had many contributing factors to its success including: a great cast, relatable storyline, fantastic choreography and an even better movie soundtrack. A Broadway musical adaptation was no doubt in the foreseeable future; if only the book writer and original screenwriter, Dean Pitchford, didn’t take all the meat out of the film and replace it with saccharine.

Footloose tells the story of Ren McCormack who moves with is mother to Bomont, a small Midwestern town, after being abandoned by his father. Upon arrival, Ren is at odds with many of Bomont’s residents especially Reverend Shaw Moore who has outlawed dancing due to a horrible tragedy the town experienced. With the help of Willard, Ren’s best friend, and Ariel, the Reverend’s daughter, Ren tries to convince the Reverend to overturn his decision as music can promote healing. For the Broadway adaptation, Pitchford wanted to showcase not just Ren’s story, but also Reverend Shaw Moore and his family. Pitchford however doesn’t provide an even balance resulting in Ren’s arc becoming diminished. What really saves the show is the incorporation of the film's original amazing soundtrack featuring all the hits you love including: "Almost Paradise", "Let's Hear it For the Boy", "Holding Out for a Hero", and of course "Footloose". Pitchford also collaborates with Tom Snow penning nine new songs. While the songs are fine and do provide the show with structure, only one is up to par with the original songs from the film.

CMPAC is truly a treasure of Long Island. They are always able to deliver something magical. Fresh off of bringing Young Frankenstein to life at CMPAC, director Jordan Hue helps resusictate Footloose. Hue brought together a solid cast that exuberates fun. Based off of his recent productions of Young Frankenstein and Footloose, you can clearly sense that Hue is an embodiment of fun. His productions will have you "lose your blues".  DeAnna Feldmann had the daunting task of choreographing this dance heavy musical. The choreography was original and fun, but I wish there were more references to the film; especially, the infamous line fance featured in the film's finale. John Mazzarella, a fixture of Long Island Theater, chose an interesting pop art border to surround the stage and bring the show to life; the border was remniscient, and I believe, a subtle nod to the original poster of the Broadway production. 

In the role of Ren McCormick, Mike Shapiro does a great job making the role his own. However, with the revision Pitchford made to his book, the true stars of this show are the Moore family. I had the honor of seeing Courtney O'Shea yodel upside down in Young Frankenstein; here, she takes on Lori Singer's role of Ariel and truly shines. Her strong vocals will knock you out. It's always wonderful seeing Marc Strauss grace the stage. Strauss gives a tour de force performance as Reverend Shaw Moore. TamraLynn Dorsa adds new depth to the character of Vi Moore, the preacher's wife, with her performance. Pitchford's revisions allows the audience to see how Vi truly struggles being a loving, supportive, resilient wife. Dorsa perfectly conveys these sentiments with her fine acting and musical performances of "Learning to Be Silent" and "Can You Find It in Your Heart". 

The scene stealers of the evening for sure are Rich Giordano as Willard and Cassie Friedman as Rusty. Giordano is making is CMPAC debut and truly makes his mark on the stage. His performance of Willard will have you in stitches and his performance of "Mama Says" is one of the showstoppers and highlights of the evening.  Cassie Friedman also makes quite the impression and stops the show with her performance of "Let's Hear It for the Boy". After you see them both on stage, you will be saying "Let's Hear It for the Boy...and Girl!"

The true star of the show was the phenomenal band directed by Matthew Surrico. They nailed every song and a shout must be given to the band's incredible reed player Andrew Lenahan. His solos in "I'm Free" will give you chills. 

Footloose marks the opening of CMPAC's 52nd season. It is playing through January 27, and has beens selling out. CMPAC's season will continue with Evita (Feb 10-24), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Mar 16-Apr 6), and Saturday Night Fever (May 4-18). I look forward to seeing what magic CMPAC cooks up next.

You can purchase tickets to all of these productions here: 

 You can check out photos from the production here: 

Check out the trailer below!