Footloose Is Dancing Its Way Through The Capital Region!

Footloose is back! This time, it’s dancing its way into our hearts at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham. If you follow any of what I write online here, you already have a pretty good idea of the plot, from my review a few weeks back of another area venue’s production. Divorce causes Ren McCormack and his mother, Ethel, to up route their lives in Chicago and move to the small, ultra-conservative town of Bomont, where Ren is faced with a life totally foreign to him. The town is controlled by Rev Shaw Moore, who has had the town outlaw dancing. The Reverend’s rebellious daughter, Ariel, falls for the town’s bad boy and then, ultimately, for Ren. As for the rest of the story, you’ll just need to go and see for yourself how it all turns out!

Jake Koch as Willard and Matthew Harper Stevenson as Ren. Photo by Ann Kielbasa.

The Mac-Haydn production has assembled its largest cast, over 30 performers, each of whom is better and more talented than the next. The show is all about the music and the dancing. At the helm of this mega production are three enormously talented Mac-Haydn vets: Director Erin Spears Ledford, Choreographer Bryan Knowlton, and Music Director Eric Shoney.

Ledford takes the cast through life’s emotional ups and downs in Bomont. She reigns in the drama and plays to the humor while always having her characters appear three-dimensional. Knowlton’s tight, complex choreography is exceptional. He manages to make this overly large cast appear on the stage at the same time and never feel as if they are cramped or about to fall off the stage!  

George Dvorsky as Reverend Shaw Moore and Liz Gurand as Vi Moore. Photo by Ann Kielbasa.

Once again, Eric Shoney makes his performers’ voices ring. With the exception of some sound mixing issues, where the ensemble numbers felt as if they were going to blow you out of your seats a few times until they got it right, the music is outstanding. The harmonies are tight, particularly Learning To Be Silent, performed by Vi, The Reverend’s wife, Elizabeth Gurland; Ethel, Jeannine Trimboli; and Ariel, Stephanie Prestage, is outstanding. Vocally, the show is stolen by Kassi McMillan with her rendition of the classic hit, Let’s Hear It For The Boy. With the company backing her up, McMillan blows the roof off the house. 

Matthew Stevenson leads his cast admirably as Ren McCormack, the misunderstood teen who is as much at home in Bomont as Dorothy was when she landed in Oz. Stevenson is loaded with talent, and this part allows him to showcase it to its best advantage. Stephanie Prestage’s Ariel matches him note for note and step for step as the girl looking to shock her father and earning a reputation as the town’s bad girl.  Another Mac vet, George Dvorsky, returns as Rev. Moore, the conservative, confused, and obviously heartbroken man trying to make sense of his own life while at the same time leading his flock and losing his family. Dvorsky is always a pleasure to see on the Mac stage. His commanding presence and strong masterful voice offer a wonderful facade for this broken man. 

Kassi McMillan as Rusty, Stephanie Prestage as Ariel, Amber Mawande-Spytek as Urleen, and Belle Babcock as Wendy Jo. Photo by Ann Kielbasa.

Jake Koch is Willard, who does a great job as the comic relief of the show and ends up revealing a very exciting twist to his character and presenting, in Act II, heretofore unseen talents on the stage.

Costume Designer Bethany Marx does a great job recreating the era dressing everyone from lead to ensemble in period-perfect costumes. 

Footloose, an interesting play based on the 1984 movie, offers lessons in extremes and control. Written by Dean Pitchford and Walter Robbie, with Music by Tom Snow and Lyrics by Pitchford, the show is at once dated and timeless.  At the very least, go for the music and dancing; at the most, take away some well-thought-out life lessons. It’s an evening that will have you singing on the way home and talking about those lessons.  Mac-Haydn has presented its audience with its second hit of the summer season.

For ticket information: or call the box office at 518-392-9292. Footloose runs through July 16. 

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    […] Bill Kellert calls ‘Footloose’ “exceptional” in hid review for Nippertown […]

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