Theater

Dance, music king in lively ‘Footloose’

Aidan Wharton in 'Footloose' at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, which plays through June 2.
Aidan Wharton in 'Footloose' at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, which plays through June 2.

Footloose” was a groundbreaking 1984 film. Starring a relatively unknown Kevin Bacon, “Footloose” made dancing cool. The killer soundtrack by artists such as Kenny Logins, Bonnie Tyler and Sammy Hagar was perfect for expressive, emotional dancing.

The story follows high school teen Ren and his mother as they relocate from Chicago to Bomont, Utah, to live with relatives after Ren’s father abandons them. A kid who expresses his emotions through dance, Ren is frustrated to learn that dancing and rock ’n’ roll music are banned in Bomont thanks to the efforts of the town’s spiritual leader, the Rev. Shaw Moore.

The Reverend’s daughter, Ariel, has a wild side as she acts out against her domineering father. She dates the crudest bad boy Bomont has to offer, but quickly develops eyes for Ren once he makes his mark on the town.

Fast forward to the present, and “Footloose” has made the transition from film to the stage. Now playing at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire through June 2, “Footloose the Musical” captures all the dance greatness and memorable music that made the film an institution.

While Kevin Bacon had a body double for the dance scenes in the movie, there is no such thing when acting on stage. For the Marriott, Aidan Wharton captures the rebellious spirit of Ren, while showing off amazing dance moves and a solid singing voice.

Opposite Wharton, Lucy Godinez is a salty seductress with a powerful, yet beautiful voice as preacher’s daughter, Ariel. Godinez’s performance of “Holding Out for a Hero” is a divine interpretation. Broadway’s Jim Stanek turns in a solid performance as the Rev. Moore. He’s not a villain, just a misguided man with too much power.

Choreography by William Carlos Angulo makes good use of the revolving stage as he translates the mood of each number into intricate, sexy dance the ensemble brings to life with high energy and precision accuracy. The dance numbers are amazing.

While there can be flaws in adapting a movie into a stage musical, direction by Gary Griffin makes the most of the script – turning in an enjoyable piece of entertainment that has the audience on the edge of their seats.

Music direction by Ryan T. Nelson brings to life hits from the original soundtrack re-orchestrated for the stage as well as original compositions by Tom Snow and lyricist Dean Pitchford.

In the supporting role of Ren’s best friend Willard, Ben Barker is a true standout. Willard can’t dance (yet), doesn’t know how to talk to girls and always is spouting off questionable quotes from his crazy mother. Barker plays the character to perfection.

As Willard’s crush and Ariel’s confidant Rusty, Monica Ramirez is up to the task. Her take on the song, “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” is simply awesome.

Other notable performances include Ryan McBride as town bad boy Chuck, Heidi Kettenring as Ren’s mother Ethel, and Johanna McKenzie Miller as the reverend’s wife Vi Moore, The ensemble cast of talented singers and dancers is absolutely stellar.

For a delightful excursion of awe-inspiring dance and music, look no further than Marriott Theatre’s production of “Footloose the Musical.”

Footloose plays 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 1 and 5 p.m. Sundays. There are select Thursday performances at 1 p.m. Tickets range from $50 to $60. Student, senior and military discounts are available. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings, there are a limited number of dinner-theater packages available. There is free parking available for all shows. Marriott Theatre is located at 10 Marriott Drive in Lincolnshire. To reserve tickets, contact the Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847-634-0200 or go to www.ticketmaster.com.

For information, visit www.marriotttheatre.com.

• Rikki Lee Travolta has headlined and directed theatrical productions around the country. He has written two novels and a memoir, all revolving around the entertainment world. He currently hosts a weekly musical theater radio program, “It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee” on 101.5 FM. Rikki Lee also is the founder of It’s Showtime Theatre of Huntley and continues to serve on the Advisory Committee.

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