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‘Footloose–The musical:’ Great parties never get old

Michaela Roman
“Footloose— The Musical” will have showings at the UTEP Dinner Theater until Nov. 9.

Two things can happen when you see someone so confident and energetic, willing to go as far as he can —and perhaps more—to defend what he believes in, even if this person was labeled at first as a troublemaker. The first thing that can happen is that everyone will look at him and empathize with him, follow him, go with his pace and rhythm, even over the objections of people who are against him.

That’s what happens in “Footloose—The Musical,” the stage adaptation from the hit 1984 movie directed by Jaime Barba, which just opened at the UTEP Dinner Theatre.

The doors of the UDT were open early, with a massive audience just in time for dinner to be served. Dinner began at 7 p.m. with a garden salad with house dressing. The main dish was chicken Parmesan with angel hair pasta, followed by a delicious apple crisp a la mode with caramel topping for dessert.

This adaptation is really close to the original story: Ren McComark is a teenager from Chicago, who relocates with his mother to Bomont, a small conservative town. In Bomont, all dancing activities are prohibited by Reverend Moore, a strong figure in the community, whose daughter, good-girl-gone-bad Ariel, becomes Ren’s love interest.

With wonderful performances from the main characters, Julian Maldonado—who had a role in “In The Heights” last summer—as Ren McComarck, and Rebecca Escobedo– in her second show at UDT—as Ariel Moore, showed great energy and dancing abilities, which is what everyone was expecting from fresh, dynamic characters.

Maldonado displayed all his experience in breakdance, showcasing his roots as a hip-hop performer
in Los Angeles.

Following the main characters were Rusty, played by Avery Segapeli, Wendy Jo (Lauren Peña) and Urleen (Jordyn Catanach), three beautiful and powerful voices who also, along with Willard (David Morgan), made the audience laugh with their jokes. A special mention to Josh Harris, who gave an outstanding performance as the authoritative Reverend Moore, but also gave him a sensitive side.

“Footloose—The Musical” is more dynamic and fast paced than the movie, and for some moments, there is the feeling that most of the scenes go at Ren’s rhythm. Still, it is well complemented with new songs so the other characters are not left behind.

With that in mind, we know and understand Reverend Moore’s feelings and thoughts through his songs and we have a better understanding of Willard’s character with the song “Mama Says.” The similarities between Ren’s mother, Ethel McComarck (played by Arazelia Pérez), and Rev. Moore’s wife, Vi Moore (Jennifer Harris), and the lovely voice of Segapeli are all present in “Let’s Hear it For the Boy.” The audience still got to enjoy old hits like “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Dancing is not a Crime” and “Footloose.”

The combination of new and old songs was really helpful in having a better insight into the characters. It keeps them following the pace and rhythm of the musical.

Other positive points are the appropriate costumes—keeping in mind that it is the mid ‘80s—and a great set with a screen at the back that really helped to provide a better picture on stage. Some negative points included lulls in between scenes that were forced or sudden. With a dynamic musical like “Footloose,” it’s expected that everything is at a fast pace, but it wouldn’t hurt to take some time to fix this. During some moments, the volume of the microphones was too high and some extra noise could be heard.

At the beginning of this review, I said there are two things that can happen when you see someone as energetic and confident as Ren McComarck. We could see what happened in the musical and the movie: Ren finally gets Reverend Moore’s approval to have a dance party in school and gets a whole town to dance. There is a big frenzy with all the characters, including the serious ones, dancing and enjoying a great big colorful party. That’s the second thing that could happen: there is a big thing going on and you don’t want it to stop. You just want to be there enjoying it.

Overall, it is a good show that should not be expected to be exactly like the movie, but will definitely bring back memories to the adult audience and will surely connect with the younger ones. It will bring together two different generations around good food, a great environment and excellent performances.

Gianfranco Languasco may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Michaela Roman
Michaela Roman, Editor-in-Chief
Michaela is a Senior Digital Media Production major at The University of Texas at El Paso. As the Editor-in-Chief, and former Photo Editor of The Prospector, she has learned to stay organized, manage a staff of writers and photographers, meet deadlines, cover events and network with others. She also has freelance experience and a personal photography business. Michaela aspires to work as an editor for a large media outlet and one day go to graduate school to teach photojournalism.
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‘Footloose–The musical:’ Great parties never get old