The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Footloose
Organization Stand Out Talend
Date(s) of show October 3-19, 2014
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb

I’m pretty sure I had more fun than you did last night.  Why?  Because I attended opening night of Stand Out Talent’s production of Footloose.  It’s a delightful story to start with, but the outstanding cast overflowed with talent and energy, and gave the large audience a great show.

It’s a musical, so its success hangs on the quality of the music, and 18-year-old, first-time music director Nic Valdez pulled off a triumph.  He sat at the synthesizer in view throughout the show, keying the recorded music, playing the incidental music for set changes, and providing live accompaniment for a few of the songs.  But it was his behind-the-scenes work preparing the ensemble that really made a difference.  The full ensemble included well over 20 people, and they weren’t all strong voices, but I heard a lot of harmony, and they really put their songs across.  Along with Director Jennifer Bortz’ choreography, some of the group numbers were truly outstanding, and “Mama Says” led by Zach Van Ysseldyk (as Willard) was a true show-stopper, driving the audience wild (almost as wild as Zach and the young men who performed it).

Throughout I was struck with the quality of individual voices, and I felt that Marlise Dizon, David Kelly, and Andy McCollum did particularly well.  Carli Meyer, Sam Bank, Judith Boreham, Elena Maddy, and Karl Johnson also sang well in their supporting roles.  And I have to add that Kelly Andrews gave an especially beautiful and soulful performance of her big number, “Can You Find It in Your Heart.”

Footloose is not just a frothy piece of fun.  There are serious themes and real drama, often conveyed by the music.  But here is where excellent acting cemented the quality of this show.  I think casting is at the root of the success of a show:  if an actor is well cast, they can really reach their potential.  And so many of the people I saw last night seemed perfectly cast.  Marlise Dizon as Ariel sparkled in her role and was a believable rebellious, yet compassionate, preacher’s daughter.  David Kelly as Ren really brought the out-of-town misfit/reformer role to life.  And Andy McCollum as Reverend Shaw not only came across as the perfect small-town minister and controlling father, but also showed great emotional range.  I was honestly touched by his key scene with Ariel.  I hate being caught in an enumeration of actors because I saw so many strong performances, and I fear leaving out some who really deserve recognition.  But I still have to single out Zach Van Ysseldyk, whose over-the-top antics, complete with Texas drawl, were a high point of the evening.  And though we didn’t see much of Jake Young in the role of Chuck, he impressed me so much in the early going that I was sorry his role wasn’t bigger than it was.

Seeing a show at the Tower Theatre is a special experience.  With performers surrounded by audience on three sides, there’s an intimacy that you don’t get with the “fourth wall” of a traditional theater.  You can look performers in the eye from a close distance, and you can pick up subtleties in their performance that might otherwise be lost.   However, this show doesn’t succeed on “subtleties.”  For the most part, it’s big and brash with a lot of comedy, high energy and some eye-popping action (several of the dance numbers even include tumbling runs).

One final thing I noticed last night is that the cast members know they have a good show.  It was evident from their body language as they took their final bows to the accompaniment of the song “Footloose.”  They ran out to the lobby and were still singing as we audience members entered from the theater.  That kind of energy and commitment gives me the confidence to say that if you see this show, you’ll have as much fun with it as I did.

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