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'Footloose': HIgh-energy performance pulls audience out of its seats

The Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Players’ knock-your-socks-off energy kicked their toe-tapping December 13th performance of Footloose to life.

The Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Players' knock-your-socks-off energy kicked their toe-tapping December 13th performance of Footloose to life.

The Players threw the now classic story of a city boy's transition to small-town life (where dancing is prohibited) into the 21st century with modern props and costumes, lending a new depth to show's societal commentary with a nod to its timelessness.

Ensemble energy stood out in the performance, as supporting/ensemble actors came in to strengthen the show, which, admittedly, contained many high-exposure vocal and choreographic situations. The best numbers were also the most energetic, particularly "I'm Free," "Let's Hear It For the Boy," and, of course, "Footloose." The ensemble's enthusiasm spilled into the aisles of the theatre for some genuinely cut-loose moments of musical fun, ranging from their new take on gym class push-ups to the iconic bench-seat dance lesson moves.

Jack Allison and Gillian McLarty led the cast as Ren McCormack and Ariel Moore, respectively. Allison's solid vocals showcased nicely in songs like "I Can't Stand Still" and "I'm Free" while McLarty's sassy dance moves complimented features like "The Girl Gets Around" and "Holding Out for a Hero."

Members of the supporting cast, particularly Maya Jones (Rusty), Griffin Banks (Willard Hewitt), and Joseph Torsella (Reverend Shaw Moore) stood out as exceptional. Jones' versatile vocal talent rocked the largely solo "Let's Hear it for the Boy" but also meshed well in "Somebody's Eyes" to couple with the stellar supporting team of Emily Sullivan and Avery Nunn (Urleen and Wendy Jo). Banks' comedic timing and authentic accent induced many laughs throughout the show, but particularly in the feature "Mama Says (You Can't Back Down)" along with the hilarious team of Sean Terrey, Robert Hass, and Callum Brazier (Jeter, Bickle, and Garvin). By contrast, Torsella's performance combined solid acting with precise vocal technique to convey a more serious character development from pompous to reverend in iterations of "Heaven Help Me."

Technical aspects of Footloose were largely student-driven (sound, lighting, sets, costumes, make-up, props, and stage management/crew). The set work of Mercedes Reichner and Noelle Goudy and the stage management of Caroline Henry, Maddie Nicol, and Kerry Doud were commendable for the use of multi-level platforms along with the clever mobilization of costumed ensemble members for set changes.

Overall, the remarkable student teamwork of the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Players on Footloose successfully encouraged their audience to kick off their shoes and dance along.