Footloose Musical – Still Has Lessons Today

What a show and what a refreshing, lively group of young singers and dancers! This is the 10th anniversary tour of Footloose the musical. This musical debuted at the Richard Rogers Theater on Broadway in October, 1998 and closed in July, 2000. It was nominated for four Tony Awards and was revised for this tour in Connecticut in December, 2008.

I had seen the original Broadway show ten years ago and fell in love with it. It’s a lively production with great choreography and show stopping tunes. The story is about a high school senior, Ren, from Chicago who goes to live in a small town in the Bible Belt with his Mother. To his surprise, this is a town with strict and unusual local laws and a ban on dancing.

Ren goes footloose, turns the town upside down and soon has everyone dancing, including the town preacher and the city council that set these rigorous laws into practice. Some of the classic numbers from the show are “Let’s Hear it for the Boy“, “Footloose“, “Almost Paradise” and “I Need a Hero“.

The dance numbers are very athletic and the score is “get out of your seat and move” music. Even though the show was written ten years ago, the story and score hold up so well in today’s culture. It portrays how young people can show older folks that some of the rigors put upon them are ridiculous and can be changed to make teenagers more willing to cope with the demands of society, if we would just open our minds to “their needs”.

The young stars in this recent production I attended, at the Naples Philharmonic Theater, were convincing as high school seniors out to change the laws in their town without violence or resentment. They did it by calmly making their case to the elders explaining the stupidity of the dancing ban. Ren, the spokesperson for the seniors, describes how it is even written in the Bible of the need to sing and dance. The whole ensemble was enthusiastic, extremely talented, and the adult roles were performed by real pros.

I lived in Texas for 22 years and the dancing ban is not too far fetched.

In fact, a major University in Texas did not allow dancing on campus until 1996. The students would go off campus to dance and they willingly accepted the ban for 151 years!

Footloose was such a successful musical that it was made into a movie, starring Kevin Bacon. He was superb in the role of Ren and surprised audiences with his dancing and singing skills.

It is a great and uplifting show but if you can’t catch the road show, try renting or purchasing the DVD. A treat for the whole family – your teen-age children will love it!

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