Slow Burn Theatre Co. brings the hit film “Footloose” to the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts stage in a musical adaptation for three weeks during the holiday season, and with it an absolutely entertaining spectacle of dance set to some of the greatest hits of the 1980s. In the musical, big city teen Ren McCormack is forced to leave Chicago to the small town of Bomont, where dancing and the modern world have been shut out of the town by the stringent Reverend Shaw Moore. “Footloose” runs at the Amaturo Theater until January 1 with tickets available here.
Leading the show as Ren, Kyle Southern takes on the role with an undeniable Jeremy Jordan-esque charisma while tackling intense choreography as the teen shaking up the small town through dance. As the rebellious preacher’s daughter, Caiti Marlowe returns to the Slow Burn Theatre Co. stage as Ariel Moore, playing to her strengths as an ingénue. The uptight preacher Rev. Shaw Moore played by Michael Dean Morgan and his wife Vi played by Irene Adjan may both be posited as the conservative older foils to the young leads, but both bring an emotional presence to the more deceptively simple roles. While the show is emblematic of Regan-era idealism and individuality, the script features smartphones and references to Wikipedia that, along with the GAP inspired costumes, puts the show somewhere in the modern day.
As a stage translation of the story by “Fame” songwriter Dean Pitchford, the show recruited Walter Bobbie to bring the film to the Great White Way initially. Bobbie, known for his work on the Encores revival (and current Broadway iteration) of the musical “Chicago” does best in “Footloose” when treating the show almost as a concert version of the film. Pitchford and Bobbie’s book gets torn between staying faithful to the source material and developing sequences that work on stage. In this Slow Burn production, choreographer Shannon Mullen plays up the stag-ier aspects of the show by emphasizing A.C. Ciulla’s original spectacle. Director Patrick Fitzwater understands the craft of musical theater, in making transitions from dialogue, to breaking out into song, into the full-blown dance sequences (which there are a lot of in a show about how dance is banned) feel entirely natural within the world of the show. Clifford Spulock’s arena rock lighting designs bring a dreaminess to the show that makes sense of the choreographed moments.
With so many timeless classics in the soundtrack, the musical took care in bringing some behemoth hits to the stage. The iconic Kenny Loggins titular track bookends the show, but do not expect any empty warehouse dancing from the cast. Pitchford’s songs are given precedence within the show, with new music by Tom Snow. Contributions from Sammy Hagar are also featured, but what gives the show a signature level of theatricality are the songs by Eric Carmen and Jim Steinman. Carmen, bringing the track “Almost Paradise” turned into a love duet by the show’s romantic leads and Steinman, famous for “Bat Out of Hell” and “Phantom of the Paradise” transforms “Holding Out for a Hero” into an “I Want” song for the teen girls of the town of Bomont.
Closing out the year 2022 strong, Slow Burn Theatre Co. continues to raise the standards for local musicals in South Florida. “Footloose” is an entertaining evening of dance and massive 80s hits set to the story of freedom through expression. The show runs until January 1, tickets are available here.