LEWISTON – The dancers in “Footloose” are great. The singers are wonderful. And big bonus, the acting is superb.

Community Little Theatre’s production of this high-energy musical is an all-round delight.

Director Richard Martin and choreographer Mariah Perry have showcased the varied talents of their large and enthusiastic cast of young men and women with intelligent balance.

“Footloose,” based on the hit movie of 1984, is about can-do kids in a town where dancing has been banned.

The show is sometimes criticized for having a predictable plot. Of course, the kids are going to recapture their right to dance, and CLT’s “Footloose” gives them several well-staged production numbers to show their moves. Beyond that, both the youth and adult leading actors handle the heartfelt drama of the story with excellent performances.

Carl Zurhorst’s portrayal of the streetwise Chicago boy transplanted to a repressive rural town is right on the mark. He is an accomplished dancer, but he also delivers an acting performance of exceptional depth.

As Ariel, the preacher’s daughter with a wild side, Molly Keane-Dreyer also shows strong acting talent.

Ren and Ariel discover their attraction to each other, and Ariel’s abusive boyfriend, Chuck, ably played by James Kramlich, strikes back. This subplot of youthful rivalry is well developed. Kramlich and his tough sidekicks (Brett Delawter and Chris Hodgkin) provide menacing contrast for Ariel’s dual personality in and out of church.

One of the show’s best numbers is “The Girl Gets Around” with Ariel and the three young punks.

Keane-Dreyer reveals the youthful yearning of Ariel in several well-acted scenes with her father and with Ren. The beautiful duet, “Almost Paradise,” is an excellent song that also benefits from the nighttime railroad trestle scene provided by the set design and construction crew.

A special treat in CLT’s “Footloose” is the performance of Owen Davis as Willard, the slow-witted but intuitive young farm boy whose support inspires Ren and his high-school friends to challenge the town’s dance-ban ordinance.

Willard is a tall, gangly likable hick with a heart of gold, and Davis plays the part with a sensibility for honest laughs at his adolescent awkwardness.

“Mama Says,” a song that’s new to the stage production, is a real crowd-pleaser for Davis and his buddies.

Vin Brown makes his first appearance in Maine on the CLT stage. He gives a fine performance as Rev. Shaw Moore, the unbending preacher who finally remembers the feelings of youth. His vocal presentation is closer to spoken than the usual powerful musical theater-style, but it’s well suited to the character. His solo delivery of “Heaven Help Me” is very effective.

Paulette Brooks, playing the preacher’s wife, and Debra Kramlich as Ren’s mother, display fine voices in “Learning To Be Silent,” a dramatic number that also includes Ariel.

Brooks and Brown also are outstanding with their renditions of “Can You Find It In Your Heart.”

The whole cast develops the mood of small-town repression with an effective stylized presentation of “Somebody’s Eyes.”

That leaves the songs that were most memorable from the movie and radio play. “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” gets a rousing presentation featuring Alexis Handy as Rusty, Willard’s girlfriend. Ariel and Rusty with their friends Urleen and Wendy Jo (Emily Akeley and Ashley DeBlois) also do a fine job on “Holding Out for a Hero.”

Of course, the title tune, “Footloose” opens the show and it’s a spectacularly colorful finale number. The dancers do very well with it, but they also have to sing. The big stage swallows a lot of that sound, so it would be an improvement if the whole cast would really shout out their exuberance.

Scene changes are often a distraction in budget productions. That detail is handled with imagination in CLT’s “Footloose.” Most scene changes are seamless and that allows the story to flow without interruption.

Go and do

WHAT: “Footloose”

WHO: Community Little Theatre

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 22-23; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24.

WHERE: Lewiston Middle School auditorium

TICKETS: Call 783-0958 or go online to www.laclt.com


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