The theater was nearly packed on Thursday night for WHSTE’s (Wayland High School Theater Ensemble) production of the musical “Footloose,” indicating Wayland’s excitement for this performance. The anticipation was warranted. In the past, WHSTE has provided great performances, such as this year’s fall play, “On the Razzle,” and last year’s spring musical, “Beauty and the Beast.” Once again WHSTE did not disappoint, combining creative choreography with stunning music for a great performance.
“Footloose” has previously been a movie, twice, and a Broadway musical. The musical follows Ren McCormack (senior Tommy Lewis), a high school senior who moves with his mother from Chicago to the small town of Bomont, Nebraska. He quickly gets into trouble, causing the people in Bomont to gossip. Meanwhile, Ariel Moore (senior Tori Gitten) clashes with her father, the town’s preacher Reverend Shaw Moore (junior Tim Spinale) over her boyfriend Chuck Cranston (sophomore Omar Rios). Ren soon learns that modern music and dancing has been outlawed in Bomont, for the residents have been led by Reverend Moore to believe that modern music and dancing led to the car accident that killed four Bomont teenagers five years prior. Ren and Ariel team up to hold a dance and change that attitude.
While the overall acting was wonderful, several cast members stood out. Senior Isabel Pongratz stood out as Ariel’s friend Rusty, who added humor to the musical. Sophomore Omar Rios, playing Ariel’s boyfriend Chuck Cranston, both sang and danced well. Junior Catriona Oliver and senior Katie Cundari were great as Ren and Ariel’s mothers respectively.
The music was what really made “Footloose” stand out. Pongratz and senior Melissa Smith, who played Ariel’s friend Wendy Jo, gave great performances during “Somebody’s Eyes” and “Holding out for a Hero.” Lewis and Gitten also shined when they sang “Almost Paradise” together.
The set was also fantastic. In particular, the church backdrop at the beginning of the play, including parts that came down from the ceiling, showed how much time had gone into building the set. The bridge set built on the walkway to the stage also displayed a lot of detail. The scenery for the majority of the musical was a beautiful set with mountains and a moon.
While the musical was great, there were a few minor flaws, including some problems with the sound quality of the production. At times, the pit band was a bit too loud and drowned out the actors’ lines. Also, the microphones occasionally crackled loudly, which was particularly distracting during some of the solos in the musical numbers. In addition, the pace of the musical seemed too fast at times, and with the exception of Ariel and Ren, most of the characters sounded flat now and then.
In the end, WHSTE showcased the talent of the cast well during this performance. “Footloose” combines great choreography, fantastic musical numbers and a detailed set for an amazing experience. While the plot was a bit rushed, and there were some issues with sound quality, I was blown away by how the actors conveyed emotions through song and dance. I would rate this musical 4.5 out of 5 stars.