Let's hear it for Footloose!

Posted Friday, August 8, 2014 in Culture

Let's hear it for Footloose!

Ren (Eric Sciotto) and his Chicago friends dance on his last night in town.

by Gina Hamilton

 BRUNSWICK -- Maine State Music Theatre began its final run of the year with “Footloose”, a coming of age story set against the backdrop of eighties angst. It was a tough time to be a young person – in the real world, the universal war of independence in which rock and roll was the unifying anthem for the young from the 50s through the 70s had been shattered by rock's disintegration into factions of punks and rockers, ska black-and-whites, nascent rappers, and hardcore reggaeteers.

 No such unhappy musical distinctions mar the little town of Beaumont, Nowheresville, however. Their universal distinction is that they're not allowed to have dancing at all. A tragedy five years before, in which four kids were killed in a car accident coming home from a dance, caused the grief-stricken father of one of the boys and town preacher Shaw Moore (David Ruprecht) to cause the town council to pass a law banning dancing.

 Enter Ren McCormack (Eric Sciotto) and his mother Ethel (Charis Leos), whose father and husband have deserted them. They came from Chicago, where Ren could work out his nervous energy in dance. After missteps in school, Ren finds a group of friends that includes the preacher's daughter Ariel (Heidi Kettenring), Willard Hewitt (Will Ray), and Rusty (Cary Michelle Miller). Rusty's rendition of “Let's Hear it for the Boy” is a joyous number, and Ariel and Ren's duet “Almost Paradise” is a thrilling song to fall in love to.

 But Ren still misses dancing, and wants to change the world for the kids who are just holding out long enough to escape from Beaumont.

The dance numbers are modern and flashy, under the direction of Patti Colombo, with costuming by Kurt Alger, and the themes of teenage alienation and redemption into the adult world, the innocent sins being protected by the community to avoid the more deadly ones, are themes that exist not only in the hearts of every teen fighting his or her private war for independence, but in the souls of the parents who must step back and let it happen.

Of special note is the lighting by Dan Efros, which takes the characters from a star and moonlit night to a smoggy daytime gas station in a heartbeat.

Footloose has had an extra performance scheduled, which suggests that tickets are going fast, so get your tickets soon if you haven't already. For more information about this season, or the upcoming season which will include “The Full Monty”, a surprise show to be announced in January, “The Music Man”, and “Young Frankenstein”, visit www.msmt.org.

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