Footloose! by Sun Valley High School in Aston, PA
March 14, 2017
Review submitted by Lauren Oaster of Interboro High School
Ren McCormack can’t stand still, and neither could the audience after Sun Valley High School Theater’s kickin’ performance of the hit musical, Footloose!
Footloose is an upbeat show written in 1998 and based off of a 1984 movie also entitled Footloose. This show chronicles the story of Ren McCormack, a vibrant, rebellious teenager, as he and his mother relocate to a small, tight-knit rural town called Bomont. There, Ren quickly realizes that Bomont is nothing like the bustling metropolis of Chicago. After hearing of a local ordinance that outlaws any activities that constitute “fun”, Ren makes it his priority to convince the town’s prominent authoritative figure, Reverend Shaw Moore, to abolish the law and throw a dance that will “knock Bomont right off its tractor”. Along the way, he befriends a group of teenagers that includes the reverend’s defiant daughter, Ariel.
Sun Valley’s production showcased a variety of its many very talented thespians. Outstanding performances included the stage presence and nearly flawless vocal talent of Ren (Gianni Palmarini). His energy and dedication to his character was infectious and he never faltered or hit a sour note. Ariel Moore (Molly Thorpe) also performed quite nicely, and her chemistry with not only Ren but the other characters too made for a show that did not disappoint.
Another fantastic performance was that of Rusty (Elizabeth Powell), Wendy Jo (Senta Johnson), and Urleen (Jacqueline Scheck). These three girls graced the audience with their wonderfully executed harmonies and their constant precision. In addition to the entertaining trio, Willard Hewitt (David Valentine) had the audience in stitches with his quirky accent and perfectly delivered comedic lines, and was especially outstanding in his number “Mama Says (You Can’t Back Down)”.
As a unit, Sun Valley’s cast performed excellently. Full cast numbers such as “Footloose/On Any Sunday” and “I’m Free/Heaven Help Me” were very well executed, and ensemble members were clearly engaged and smiling, which left the audience wanting more.
The stage crew also did a respectable job with smooth set changes that involved little distraction. In addition to the commendable stage management, Kyle Thorpe’s execution of all sound elements with minimal hiccups was noteworthy overall.
Sun Valley High School certainly proved that “Dancing Is Not a Crime” in their splendid performance of Footloose! Now who could argue with that?
Review submitted by Emma Danz of Harriton High School
If you just “Can’t Stand Still,” come and ‘cut loose’ with Sun Valley High School and their fabulous production of Footloose!
The musical adaptation of Footloose was released on Broadway in 1998, following the popular Kevin Bacon film in 1984. The famed story follows new student, Ren McCormack, who has just moved to the small town of Bomont, where dancing has been outlawed. Set to a toe tapping score, Ren and his new friends find a way to fight the town council and hold a dance.
A myriad of talent took to the Sun Valley stage complete with energy, dynamic harmonies, and their dancing shoes. On stage and off, the company worked together to bring smooth transitions and believable theatre. The cohesive ensemble featured fun choreography and enhanced large group numbers like “I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man)” and the title favorite “Footloose.”
Standing center stage was Gianni Palmarini as the defiant, quick-witted Ren McCormack. Alternating deftly between emotionally charged dialogue and biting one-liners, Palmarini displayed an extensive range of talent. His impressive vocals shone in solo numbers like “I Can’t Stand Still” and enhanced the strength of group numbers.
Standing opposite Palmarini was Molly Thorpe as the beautiful, trapped, reverend’s daughter, Ariel Moore. Thorpe effectively handled Ariel’s complicated nature and dynamically moved moments of the show. Thorpe and Palmarini demonstrated heartwarming chemistry as they fell for each other during the show’s progression.
Joining Thorpe were Elizabeth Powell (Rusty), Jacqueline Scheck (Urleen), and Senta Johnson (Wendy Jo) as Ariel’s energetic, caring friend group. The three were a powerhouse ensemble, harmonizing beautifully during “Somebody’s Eyes,” and creating comedy together. Joining this group of the unsung, supporting heroes was David Valentine, who played Willard: the quintessential small town, southern boy. Valentine won hearts throughout his charming performance but especially during his tribute to his mother, “Mama Says (You Can’t Back Down).”
There are few things that feel as wonderful as sitting down to a well-loved show. Sun Valley High School brought that magic with this sweet classic. Let’s hear it for, not just the boy, but everyone that lent a hand it producing this show!