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Review: FOOTLOOSE: THE MUSICAL at Theatre By The Sea

Footloose runs through Saturday, July 16th at Theatre By The Sea, Wakefield, RI.

Review: FOOTLOOSE: THE MUSICAL at Theatre By The Sea

So for the sake of full disclosure, I am an 80's kid at heart. It's the only music I listen to (maybe a little 70's too because of my older sister) and Footloose has always been one of the best 80's soundtracks bar none.

While the original 1984 movie was mostly fun and the remake not so much, I didn't know exactly what to expect from Footloose: The Musical. To be honest, after all this time, I forgot how good a story this really was. It is not just about the music at all. Not only is it a coming of age story or a struggle to fit in piece, but one that digs far deeper into the impact of death on people's lives and how they choose to move on from it, or in this case, how they choose not to move on from it.

The musical numbers brought back a ton of memories, from the original "Footloose" song, to "Almost Paradise", "Holding out for a Hero" and others. One incredible dance scene featuring a lesser-known Footloose song "Somebody's Eyes" became my daughter and I's favorite scene, you know, the kind when you sing that same song the whole way home and part of the next day too? But like many good movies that get drafted into musicals, Footloose: The Musical doesn't settle just for those 80's megahits, instead piecing together eight additional wonderful songs including the haunting "Learning to be silent", the rambunctious "Still Rocking", the touching "Can you find it in your heart" and the one I never wanted to end, "Mama says you can't back down" mostly because it was performed by Ethan James Lynch who worked magic in his performance as Rem McCormack's best friend Willard.

Rem was played spectacularly by Waltham, MA native JP Qualters, his love interest Ariel Moore was portrayed splendidly by Emma Wilcox with a must-see supporting cast including Matthew Taylor as Rev. Shaw Moore, Kristen Gehling as Ethel McCormack and Aimee Doherty as Vi Moore. The cast is likely one of the best I have ever seen, from stunning voice Candace Haynes as Rusty, James Oblak as Chuck Cranston, Sami Murphy as Wendy Jo and Rebecca Murillo as Urleen. Could I list more great talents? For sure, it's THAT good of a production.

While you tend to get caught up in the music and incredible voices at times, you can't miss the touching story of a town trying for so many years to come to grips with an unspeakable death of four of its youth. You feel bad for Ren as he tries to break this bond, this exile of music and dancing, but in the end, the town and the families that faced that loss head on are the only ones who can change it. In perhaps one of the most touching moments in the musical when Rem confronts Rev. Moore on his doorstep admitting he also lost someone in his own father stresses "honoring their memory by shutting out the world isn't working. I'm trying to move on cuz I'm tired of looking back". I don't write many lines down these days but that one I did and it may be one of my favorite musical lines ever and it's something to live by. Do we live in the past or do we focus on the future? What is more important?

Whether you grew up with Footloose or somehow missed it along the way, this two-hours and thirty-minute Theatre By The Sea production is so wonderful for the whole family, even for my tough 14-year-old daughter who seems to like very little these days. The cast, music and dance numbers are so incredible that part of you hope it never ends. However, there is lessons to be had here for all of us and it's great to learn them while dancing and singing. It's thankfully allowed here so take advantage any chance you can.

Photo by Mark Turek

From This Author - Jay Pateakos

Jay Pateakos has been a newspaper journalist since the late 1990’s, branching off into theatre reviews more than 10 years ago, reviewing more than a hundred plays for the Herald News and Cape... (read more about this author)

Review: FOOTLOOSE: THE MUSICAL at Theatre By The Sea
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