For those of you who haven't seen the movie in a while (like myself), here's a brief plot rundown: single mother Ethel and her teenage son Ren move from Chicago to the small town of Bomont to live with her sister and brother-in-law. Reverend Shaw preaches the evils of the world, and along with fellow city council members has outlawed dancing in response to a car accident that killed four teenagers on their way home from a dance. He keeps a tight rein on the town, but less so his daughter Ariel, who frequently sneaks out of the house to go out with her bad boy boyfriend. Ren feels stifled in the small town, and goes on a mission to convince the city council to allow dancing. After a heart-to-heart with the Reverend, he relents, and the community is healed by the power of music and dancing.*
|we got trouble, right here in River City... I mean Bomont|
(photo by Dan Norman)
This 1998 stage adaptation of the 1984 movie feels a little dated, and there are some problems with the book - the female characters are underwritten (I still don't want to hear women singing about "Learning to be Silent"), there are a couple of instances of domestic violence that are never satisfactorily addressed, and the resolution at the end comes a little too easily. But seeing the show at this time, I couldn't help but notice that the themes of censorship, book banning, religions zealots trying to impose their morality on others by legislating what they can do with their bodies, and young people protesting for their rights are all incredibly timely. Not that this production necessarily highlights those themes, but they're there if you look for them. Footloose shows us the dangers of trying to use censorship to protect us from what we're afraid of, instead of dealing with those things with openness and honesty.
|forget "almost," this duet is paradise!|
(Alan Bach and Maya Richardson,
photo by Dan Norman)
|the kids of Footloose (photo by Dan Norman)|
Artistic director Michael Brindisi is such an expert at directing in this space, making use of every corner of the multi-level stage, placing everyone in the large ensemble exactly where they should be, and pacing the show so that it never lags, but flows smoothly between action and quieter moments. The floor of the stage is painted like a road going off into the horizon, with scaffolding on the far sides of the stage. Set pieces are smoothly moved on and off stage and include a detailed kitchen wall, the drive-in tables, school lockers, and adorable little half-cars and half-motorcycles used in some of the dance numbers. The cast is dressed in those fun '80s fashions that we love - high-waisted jeans, poufy sleeves, big hair, and of course Red's signature red converse tennis shoes (scenic design by Nayna Ramey, costume design by Rich Hamson.)
The super fun, fantastic, diverse, and joyous Footloose continues Tuesdays through Sundays at Chanhassen Dinner Theaters. Click here for info and tickets (pro tip: go on a weeknight or matinee for lower prices and better availability).
|pure joy (photo by Dan Norman)|