Talented cast, strong orchestra carry ‘Footloose, the Musical’

Ren (Chuck Love) addresses the Bomont council.
Ren (Chuck Love) addresses the Bomont council.

Showing three more weekends in FL

A review by Community Editor Mary Bailey

If you’re wondering whether you should see the Masquers Theatre production of “Footloose, the Musical,” you probably should.

Emily Lehman-Wiberg plays Ethel McCormack, Ren's mother.
Emily Lehman-Wiberg plays Ethel McCormack, Ren’s mother.

A good cast and lively musical numbers are reasons to go.

Chuck Love as Ren and Cami Sells as Ariel are convincing in their lead roles. Finding out how little there is to do in his new town, Ren shows his frustration by saying, “I could never do what you do around here: Nothing!” This is followed by his solo number, “I Can’t Stand Still.”

Sells has a particularly nice voice; one highlight of the show is her solo “Holding Out for a Hero.” In the Ren and Ariel duet “Almost Paradise,” their voices blend very well, and the orchestra supports them artistically.

Brian Etienne as the Rev. Shaw Moore successfully shows the passion of a preacher protecting his flock and the angst of a parent losing control of his child. In “Heaven Help Me” he sings, “I don’t enjoy being her jailer. But what if I fail her?”

Photos by Mary Bailey Rebekah Meyer, Anna Sturtz and Danielle Bebus sing “Somebody’s Eyes."
Rebekah Meyer, Anna Sturtz and Danielle Bebus sing “Somebody’s Eyes.”

Another musical highlight occurs in the first act, when the trio of Anna Sturtz as Rusty, Danielle Bebus as Wendy Jo and Rebekah Meyer as Urleen sing “Somebody’s Eyes.”

Michael Johnson has fun as Ren’s friend Willard. Johnson seems a natural for the role. He helps move the story forward, and in the number “Mama Says You Can’t Back Down” he brings a lot of humor.

Equally important in keeping things light is Teresa Jacobs. So athletic that at one point she does flips across the stage, Jacobs also manages, as restaurant owner Betty Blast, to appear so helpless on roller skates that she needs a push to get started. By delivering comic relief through her lines and her dancing, Jacobs turns a small part into a major contribution.

Also successful in his role is Ian Lexvold, who nails the part of Chuck Cranston, Ariel’s rough, self-centered boyfriend. He looks just right in leather motorcycle garb, and his singing is good.

Vanessa Agnes plays Vi, the sincere and insightful wife of the Reverend Shaw Moore.
Vanessa Agnes as Vi Moore.

Vanessa Agnes plays Vi, the sincere and insightful wife of the Reverend Shaw Moore.

Overall, the show is well done. What’s not to like? Especially in the first act, I often could not hear the singers over the band, and the overall effect was too loud. I would like to hear Sturtz, Bebus and Meyer sing “Somebody’s Eyes” again, this time with the band not so loud.

I found it unfortunate that after excellent singers went to all the hard work of learning and polishing the songs, problems with the sound system at times kept the audience from enjoying them.

In the second act several of the songs were ballads, and these were enjoyable. Instead of being overpowering, the band was gentle and supportive, with flute and clarinet solos that set the mood.

Teresa Jacobs in a dance scene.
Teresa Jacobs in a dance scene.

When Vanessa Agnes as Moore’s wife sang “Can You Find It in Your Heart,” when Moore sang “Open up my heart again” in the reprise to “Heaven Help Me,” and when Ren and Ariel sang “Almost Paradise,” I was thinking this is the best orchestra I’ve heard since I started reviewing musicals.

When the final dance number begins, the audience is in a good mood and ready for some happiness.

I wish the final dance could be longer. What a great opportunity to drag out the ending and celebrate for a while.