REVIEW: Footloose

Orpheus Musical Theatre Society kicks off their 107th season with another iconic show that was also a movie. For the next couple of weeks, they want to take you into the town of Bomont and ask you to cut loose with them for their production of Footloose.

Should you see it?

Every once in a while, a play just hits every button it’s supposed to.

I (probably obviously) see a lot of theatre. Most of it (fortunately) is fairly good to really good. But now and again a show comes along that is a prime example of why I love promoting theatre in this city.

Ren and Ariel in Orpheus Musical Theatret's Footloose.

Ren McCormack (Mathieu-Philippe Perras) and Ariel Moore (Courtney Vezina).

Footloose starts off a lot like the Karate Kid (the original, not the Will Smith remake I try to forget about). A single mother packs up her high school-aged son, Ren, and everything they own to get a fresh start in a new town. There’s even a girl to impress and a thug to contend with. Instead of Mr. Miagi, however, the backwards town of Bomont has Reverend Shaw Moore, who led the charge to outlaw dancing five years ago. Thing is, Ren just can’t stand still. So trouble brews.

Orpheus’s production of Footloose does everything right with a musical that’s already a high energy and fun (yet not without its great character moments) piece of entertainment.

Chuck Cranston (Brennan Richardson) in Orpheus Musical Theatre's Footloose.

Brennan Richardson’s Chuck Cranston

Mathieu-Philippe Perras and Courtney Vezina are perfectly comfortable, acting, singing, and dancing in the shoes (or cowboy boots) of city boy in a hick town, Ren McCormack, and preacher’s daughter gone bad, Ariel Moore. Watch out for their duet of Almost Paradise, which is beautifully moving.

They’re backed by a large supporting cast who all deliver really solid work. There’s too many to name them all but Brennan Richardson’s perfectly despicable Chuck Cranston, Phillip Merriman’s perfectly dopy yet loveable Willard Hewitt, and Ariel’s friends, played by Stephanie Stroud, Andrea Black, and Rebecca Abbott are worth singling out.

Stéphanie Stroud's Wendy Jo is Holding Out For a Hero

Stéphanie Stroud’s Wendy Jo is Holding Out For a Hero

In fact, Holding out for a Hero, sung by those three ladies and Courtney’s Ariel was the standout number from a pretty solid (and album-worthy) soundtrack as sung by Orpheus’s cast. Even the full choral numbers –which have been something I’ve called Orpheus on in past shows– sounded great thanks to a pretty superb audio set-up (probably the best audio in a full mic’d production I’ve seen).

Throw in some great choreography and dance numbers, a really wonderful and versatile set that allowed fairly seamless scene transitions,  and some great directing that allowed for some really nice comic moments and what you get is what just might have been one of the best-produced musicals Ottawa’s seen.

This is a guaranteed good time even if you’re a stuffy old curmudgeon and I dare you not to be itching to cut loose before the final curtain closes. If I had one wish, it would only to have been closer to the action so I could have been even more engaged in the world of Bomont.

Ticket are going fast for Orpheus’s Footloose, running at Centrepointe theatre. So buy your ticket to Bomont while you can. All details are here in our preview, along with many more photos from the production.

What did you think? Did Orpheus deliver or am I off my rocker? What was your favourite musical number of the show? Join the discussion in the comments below.

All photos in this review were taken for Production Ottawa, by Production Ottawa photographer David Pasho. Check out the full gallery on our Facebook page.

Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!

What people are saying:

  1. Mike Cassidy says:

    We went to see the Orpheus production of Footloose last night, but had never seen the movie and had no prior knowledge of the musical.
    The show is excellent and the production, staging and dancing of the show at Centrepointe are fabulous. The theatre was packed but if you can beg or buy a couple of tickets, do not missi it!

    • Production Ottawa Allan Mackey says:

      Thanks for your comment, Mike. I was in the same boat. Never saw the movie or knew much more than the basic story of the musical. I’m glad you enjoyed it and agree completely.

  2. Kim Meechan says:

    I just came home from seeing Footloose. Got one of the last tickets in this sold out performance. Wow! Fantastic! This was my first time seeing an Orpheus production and I was very impressed. I’ve been a Broadway Across Canada subscriber for many years. Some of the performers in Footloose are Broadway caliber for sure. Rebecca Abbott, who played Rusty, was my favorite-what a voice! Donna Castonguay, who played Vi Moore, is another vocal powerhouse! The dancing was amazing. Bravo!

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