This weekend saw the opening of Footloose at Beef and Boards, 9301 N. Michigan Road, Indianapolis, to a sold out theater (always a good sign).
Based on the true story of small-town teens defying the authority figures in order to legalize…dancing. If you missed the 1984 movie version, this tale moves us, with main character Ren McCormack (Dominic Sheahan-Stahl) from Chicago to the teensy town of Bomont.
Outcast by his modern outlook, McCormack becomes the leader of the battle, finding support and a best friend in town simpleton Willard (Happy Mahaney).
When one portrays a slow-witted person as seamlessly as Mahaney, it is far too easy to overlook the talent required in doing so. Making sure he isn’t underestimated in his debut appearance, Mahaney rocks the house singing lead in one of the show’s top two songs, Mama says (You Can’t Back Down), showing his vocal talents are as genuine as his comedic abilities.
Ariel (Erin P. West) is the misunderstood minister’s daughter, creating havoc while trying to reach her emotionally-closed father, Reverend Shaw Moore (Eddie Curry).
Curry (Shipwrecked, The Producers) reinforces what a multi-talented actor he is with his reprisal of the character he played in 2002. Bringing that point home with the other top song, I Confess, Curry provides the most powerful performance of the cast, thundering away from the pulpit with all the fire and brimstone a pompous, self-righteous, small town minister can muster.
Janet Essenpries, also debuting with this show, was 100 percent believable as the strong and patient Reverend’s wife Vi Moore.
Other B&B newcomers to enjoy are Maxim Gukhman (Chuck) and Darrin Murrell (Principal Clark).
Providing all the right moves for the cast, choreographing the musical, is Anderson University’s dance faculty member Doug King. When not at Beef and Boards, King teaches AU students tap, jazz, musical theater and improve composition.
Bottom Line: The high energy of the cast, music and dancing make Footloose a delightful way to learn a lesson in life’s greatest joys.
If you have a performance or event you would like reviewed, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Me, I’ll be right here Holding out for a Hero.
This post was originally published under "Gotta Go" in the West Side Community News in Indianapolis, and the West Indianapolis Community News.