Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Oakton High School Footloose

By • Apr 16th, 2012 • Category: Cappies

From the rockin’ streets of Chicago to a town where dancing is forbidden, Ren McCormack (Aidan Smith) just needed to cut loose in Oakton High School’s production of Footloose.

Opposite of the usual trend, the musical Footloose was inspired by a 1984 movie of the same name. The story travels from the opening scene of a dance club in Chicago to the southwest of Bomont, where rock ‘n roll is considered evil and dancing has been forbidden after four teenagers died while coming home from a dance. The title song, “Footloose,” calls on the characters and spectators to “cut loose” as the teens of Bomont demand the freedom to enjoy their lives and break free of the past.

In this dance-intensive show, the entire ensemble was well-rehearsed and unified. The featured dancers wowed with moves that fit each of the songs, whether explosive or smooth. The music, characterized by the teens that used it as an escape, was upheld by the leads’ ringing harmonies. The chemistry between every character elevated scenes away from the confined stage and into the world Bomont, making most interactions believable and enhancing the performance.

Presenting a cool-yet-nerdy Ren McCormack, Aidan Smith endeared himself with his talented vocals and coordinated dancing. His chemistry with Emma Mankin as Ariel Moore grew as the relationship between their characters did. Mankin’s take on the rebellious preacher’s daughter spoke to the frustrated teenage psyche. Her voice soared and echoed with emotion in every solo, creating a multi-layered character. Both leads transfused their energy into the emotions of their characters, painting an almost real story and lighting up the stage.

Bumbling yet sweet, Willard Hewitt (Spencer Waters) proved skilled at appearing clueless in his transformation from a boy with two left feet to a dancer who could sweep Rusty (Sarah Smith) off her feet. The duo presented an engaging side-romance and matched each other with hilarious comedic timing. Henry Ragan acted with emotions beyond his years as the conflicted Reverend Shaw Moore, convincingly playing through the character’s transformation and standing out as an actor. Hannah Berlin as Vi Moore handled heavy solos admirably. Alex Sommese and Elise Bartakke joined Sarah Smith as Urleen and Wendy Jo, spinning chilling harmonies in songs such as “Somebody’s Eyes” and “Holding out for a Hero” as well as lightening the mood with their comedic skill. Even smaller parts, such as Coach Dunbar (Tommy Wilson), were played with noticeable facial expressions as well-thought-out characters. However, the ensemble did occasionally lose some harmonies. Certain songs gave soloists difficulty, although they were as a whole performed well.

A swift, silent running crew handled most scene changes gracefully, transforming the versatile set designed by Reid Perkins and Trenton Robbins with few difficulties. The wireless microphones were occasionally finicky, but the sounds of the singers and orchestra were usually balanced well. Although the spotlight was occasionally shaky, Hyun Jo Lee’s creative lighting design highlighted the variety of scenes. The tech crew was well-prepared to fill out the details of this demanding show.

The cast and crew of Oakton High School has reason indeed to celebrate with a dance after sweeping the audience off their feet into a standing ovation.

by Mariah Ligas of Freedom High School

Photo Gallery

Alex Sommese, Aidan Smith, Elise Bartke, Sarah Smith Sarah Smith and Spencer Walters
Alex Sommese, Aidan Smith, Elise Bartke, Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith and Spencer Walters
Emma Mankin and Sarah Smith Emma Mankin and Aidan Smith and cast
Emma Mankin and Sarah Smith
Emma Mankin and Aidan Smith and cast

Photos by Mimi Dabestani

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