Footloose by Upper Moreland High School in Willow Grove, PA
March 28, 2017
Review submitted by Anji Cooper of Academy of the New Church
It’s time to kick off the Sunday shoes because Upper Moreland is performing Footloose. Get ready to be immersed into the lives of several teenagers as they struggle to bring change to a place that is stuck in its ways. The show’s constantly enthusiastic cast and upbeat, catchy tunes are sure to make you want to get up and start dancing right alongside its characters.
Footloose was first brought to life in a 1984 film written by Dean Pitchford. Since then, the show was turned into a musical that has been presented on Broadway and London’s West End. The story follows city boy Ren McCormack as he moves to a small, conservative town. There he is appalled to learn that dancing is banned. So, armed with his love of dance and a rebellious spirit, Ren decides to fight back against the rules. Naturally, his actions stir the populace up.
Upper Moreland’s production of Footloose was lively and energetic, containing vocally talented actors, charismatic supporting actors, and an engaging ensemble.
Scotty Murphy won the audience’s heart with his affable portrayal of Ren, the awkward misfit. He impressed with his dance moves and eager voice. Jessica Stahl played Ariel, the defiant reverend’s daughter and Ren’s love interest. She held the audience with her capable voice on songs like “That Girl Gets Around.”
The cast displayed high enthusiasm and energy throughout the show. Willard (Christian Tuffy) became a crowd favorite, constantly drawing laughter by delivering humor with an exaggerated flair. Kira Connell, who played Urleen, especially stood out with her powerful voice in songs like “Holding Out For A Hero” and “Somebody’s Eyes.” Reverend Shaw (Gabriel Stacy) possessed a strong stage presence and a warm, melodic voice. Stacy portrayed Shaw’s torn emotions with compelling and sympathetic character.
The set gave a good feel of where the show took place, and was used effectively to bring the small town to life. The production took a risk by using many individual microphones, which, for the most part, worked out by enhancing the projection of the actors’ voices throughout the large auditorium. Though there were a few sound issues, the cast performed through the obstacles to maintain continuity.
Upper Moreland’s production of Footloose showcased talented singers and dancers, bringing the beloved story to life with exuberance, and entertaining the audience with seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm.
Review submitted by Sam Spirt of Upper Dublin High School
As the snappy overture begins, dazzling smiles and dancing feet appear across the stage. The dancing teens encourage the audience to “cut loose” and bob their heads along to the beat. Upper Moreland High School practically brought audiences to their feet with their exciting production of the popular musical Footloose!
Based off of the 1984 film of the same name, Footloose follows teen Ren McCormack, as he is forced to move from the bustling city of Chicago to boring hick town Bomont. As Ren attempts to dance his way through Bomont, he finds himself in trouble with Reverend Shaw, who outlawed dancing a few years back. Ren decides to rally his fellow classmates and take a stand against the Reverend because he simply “can’t stand still.”
Scotty Murphy led the cast in the role of new kid Ren. Murphy maintained a strong energy throughout, and impressed audiences with his high belt. Opposite Murphy as the rebellious preacher’s daughter, Ariel Moore, was Jessica Stahl. Stahl had a convincing bad girl attitude and outstanding vocals. The two leads had solid chemistry, making their relationship very believable.
The cast’s biggest standout, though, was Christian Tuffy in his portrayal of the hilarious and lovable Willard Hewitt. Tuffy’s spot on comedic timing and specific physicality took his performance to the next level. In addition, Ariel’s trio of girls, Rusty (Liz Jones), Urleen (Kira Connell), and Wendy Jo (Colleen Davis), were sassy and entertaining, especially in “I Need a Hero” and “Somebody’s Eyes.”
Upper Moreland’s large ensemble supported the leading actors well, but most notable were Willard’s friends, Bickle (Ethan MacBain-Adornetto), Garvin (Nina Vitek), and Jeter (Aidan Hyman), who made “Mama Says” one of the most memorable moments. In addition, Nina Vitek also stood out in her featured role of Cowboy Bob Lead Vocalist in “Still Rockin,'” opening Act Two on a spectacular note.
The talent onstage was highlighted well with various technical elements. While the set was minimal, this was made up for in lighting, which properly captured the mood of the various settings of the show. In addition, technicians took on the challenge of controlling over twenty body microphones. Although sound was occasionally spotty, this did not hinder the quality of the performance, as actors were able to overcome these difficulties.
With exciting dance numbers and impressive talent, Upper Moreland’s Footloose was enjoyed by all. By the end of the performance, audience members had the desire to “kick off their Sunday shoes” along with the cast!