Sunday, September 18, 2016

review - FOOTLOOSE - Mesa Encore Theatre

highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through September 25th

"... Footloose is a musical with an important message about the need to fit in and the desire to change people's lives for the better. Using the songs from the movie's soundtrack, which, like the film, was a huge hit, makes for a fun, upbeat coming of age story. Mesa Encore Theatre's production has spirited direction and choreography, and some talented leads and supporting actors, which results in an energetic, joyous and joyful show....It isn't a perfect show, since some of the pop movie songs are jammed into the plot and not all of the lyrics from the film soundtrack songs fit naturally with the characters voices.  Director Suze St. John has done a very good job at not only finding a young, talented cast to play the high school characters but also in casting a good group of adults, especially Mark Hackmann and Meaghan Katz, who play Ariel's parents, and Angela Kabasan Gonzalez who plays Ren's mom Ethel. All three deliver nuanced performances full of emotion. Hackmann does a very good job to instill some sympathy, compassion and understanding into the part of the frustrated and conflicted Reverend. ...Katz and Gonzalez have rich voices that deliver a stirring "Learning to Be Silent" which they share with Greta Perlmutter, who plays Ariel. ...As Ren and Ariel, Nathan Taylor and Perlmutter do well. Taylor brings the right amount of energy to the young man who "can't sit still" and Perlmutter is quite effective ...While they both deliver natural characters, the relationship between the two of them comes across more as a good friendship than a romantic relationship full of burning. ...As Rusty and Willard, Ariel and Ren's friends who have a budding romance of their own, Harley Barton and Quincy Jackson are full of charm. ...St. John's fun, varied and upbeat choreography is well danced by the large ensemble ...Musical director CJ O'Hara has done exceptional work that achieves beautiful harmonies from the large ensemble and an explosive, superb sound from the six-piece band. ....While Footloose is not a perfect musical it has interesting characters, a large number of familiar hit pop songs from the film, and plenty of dancing. Even with the slightly unpassionate relationship between the two leads, MET's production has a good cast, especially Hackmann, Katz, and Gonzalez, fun choreography, and firm direction and results in an upbeat, crowd pleaser of a show.-Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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