By - Aug 1st, 2007 02:52 pm
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By Tracy Doyle

Check it: a beloved ‘80s movie starring Kevin Bacon, over a decade later made into a moderately successful Broadway musical, revised in 2007 and this past weekend made its local premiere in Elm Grove’s Sunset Playhouse. Why yes, I am talking about Dean Pitchford’s Footloose! Noi-ce! Mark Salentine’s director’s notes clearly stated what one should and should not expect from the performance. “Don’t expect the movie… and don’t expect the original Broadway play… Expect a story of triumph and celebration. And, of course, you should expect to cut loose – footloose!” I wholeheartedly agree.

The musical centers around the story of angst-ridden teenager Ren McCormack (Zander Bednall) who is uprooted from Chicago to the biggest little nothing of a town, Bomont, in the middle of Oneofthosestates. A bit of a troublemaker from the get go, Ren attempts to release his pent up emotions through biting sarcasm, friendly brawls and his real passion: dance. However, Ren quickly discovers that dancing has been outlawed in Bomont and he makes it his personal goal to bring back the beat to this tiny town. Along the way he befriends a hodgepodge collection of kids, the less-articulate, yet heart-of-gold side-kick Willard (Andrew Hollenbeck), the gorgeous misunderstood preacher’s daughter Ariel (Allie Beckmann), the giggling gaggle of teenage girls and the jealous meathead boyfriend of aforementioned preacher’s daughter. With his gang behind him, Ren confronts the religious authority running the town, learns a few heartfelt lessons and becomes a man.

I liked the movie (shoot, shouldn’t be talking about movie) but I loved this musical! These kids can rock. The carefully reined enthusiasm of the ensemble paired with the attitude the size of North Dakota oozing out of every angsty pore in Bednall’s body was enough to keep this girl rocking and cause some audience members in close vicinity to shout out “YEAH!!!” at the end of “Footloose (Finale).” Neither Bednall nor Beckmann is the best singer in the world, but their acting was quite believable and enjoyable. Anne Gore (Rusty) shone brightly in her rendition of “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,” one of the several popular ‘80s songs to make it into the musical score.

This show is not out to change any lives. It’s not going to change the world and I doubt you’ll leave the theater foaming at the bit over all the unfortunate souls living in danceless communities at this very moment. However, the show overwhelming succeeds in its goals of “triumph and celebration.” You’ll leave the house tapping your toes and humming a catchy bar or two; just promise me you’ll watch where you’re kicking off those Sunday shoes. VS

The Sunset Playhouse’s performance of Footloose runs through August 5. For more information, call 262-782-4430 or visit

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