Gotta Cut Loose – Footloose!  

There is some phenomenal footwork in Footloose, now on stage at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse – not to mention some great singing, and the telling of a heartfelt story.  For those of us with fond memories of the eighties, there is also big hair and colourful sweaters with shoulder pads.

Footloose is based on a true story of a small town where dancing was outlawed.  In this version, like the 1984 movie, the town’s preacher, Rev. Shaw Moore bans dancing after his son is killed in a car accident coming home from a bar.   Into this strict, stifling, small town atmosphere, Ren McCormack reluctantly arrives from Chicago.  He and his mother Ethel move to the town of Bomont to live with her sister, after Ren’s father abandons them.  Ren befriends Willard and eventually wins Aerial’s, (the preacher’s daughter’s) affections.  In the meantime, Ren also matures to lead a protest against the dancing bylaw.Footloose SJCP

What makes the stage production of Footloose popular is the great music that goes with it.  There are hits of the eighties along with heart-warming ballads.  And of course, plenty of great choreography – the dancing wows the audience.

Credit goes to director Tim French for taking what could be a sappy story and making it ring true with emotion.  French is also responsible for the lively choreography. Kudos also to musical director Robert Foster and his six piece band for recreating those popular eighties hits. This is the same group of musicians who rocked Huron Country Playhouse in Twist and Shout: The British Invasion.

The show is very well cast – Colin Sheen plays Ren McCormack, forced to leave Chicago and make a new life in the most backwoods small town in the south.  Sheen has the singing voice, the dance moves and the acting chops to give us the perfect Ren.  This triple threat looks a little like Kevin Bacon did in the first Footloose movie, but also on occasion his expressions and mannerisms remind me of a young Michael J. Fox.

Julia McLellan is perfectly cast as Ariel Moore, the preacher’s daughter.  She handles the difficult role very well:  she is convincing as the defiant teenager, testing her father while also portraying the vulnerable kid, not as world-wise as she thinks she is.  McLellan has great vocal range and solid dance skills.  Sheen and McLellan give an excellent rendition of “Almost Paradise”, the song made famous by Mike Reno of Loverboy and Anne Wilson of Heart.

An audience favourite is Nick Settimi as Ren’s only friend in Bomont, Willard.  The audience erupts in spontaneous applause when Willard finally learns to dance!  Settimi demonstrates once again his special talent for comedy, particularly in the song “Mama Says”.

Victor Young is excellent as the stern and strict Rev. Shaw Moore, afraid to mourn his son’s death, while Charlotte Moore, as Vi Moore, offers a moving plea with the song “Can you find it in your heart”.  She touches the hearts of all mothers in the audience.

The rest of the cast are all triple threats – they belt the songs powerfully and dance energetically.

Kick off your Sunday shoes and see this feel-good show, if you can get a ticket.  It is so popular it was nearly sold out before it opened, and it has been extended for a week.  At present, there are still a few single seats and some chairs at the back available, so call right away. If you miss this St. Jacobs production, I think it’s a safe bet that Drayton Entertainment will produce it in another venue next summer – watch for the 2015 announcements.

Footloose continues with eight shows a week until November 9 at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Limited tickets are available by calling the Box Office Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check

Photo: Colin Sheen as Ren, Julia McLellan as Ariel and the company of Footloose.  Photographer, Hilary Gauld-Camilleri, One For The Wall Photography

Stage Adaptation by Dean Pitchford & Walter Bobbie
Music by Tom Snow
Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
Additional Music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins & Jim Steinman
Directed & Choreographed by Tim French
Musical Direction by Robert Foster
Performed by Colin Sheen, Julia McLellan et al.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
St. Jacobs Country Playhouse
October 8 to November 9, 2014
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Disclaimer – the blogger’s son is part of this cast.


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