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Clayton High School Footloose

By • Jan 23rd, 2012 • Category: Cappies, Missouri

The kids of Clayton High School are cutting loose in their take on the classic coming-of-age story about love, religion, and dance, Footloose!

Based on the 1984 film of the same name, Footloose premiered in 1998 on Broadway. Staying true to the story and music of the teen flick that launched Kevin Bacon into stardom, the musical follows the path of Ren McCormack, a rebellious kid from Chicago who is forced to move with his mother to the small town of Bomont. There, he unintentionally stirs the pot while trying to adjust to a completely different set of standards. One law he finds most difficult to follow and wishes to change is the law of no dancing. With the help of the rebellious preacher’s daughter, Ariel, Ren shakes up the town and begins to change it, maybe for the better.

The lighthearted musical was performed with a wonderful sense of energy from the extensive ensemble. Footloose really picks up along the way, ending on a high note. Dancers perfect their moves and many voices radiate with spirit and emotion as they travel through the auditorium. On numerous occasions, actors bring forth emotion that can be felt by every member of the audience, young to old. The exciting energy and enthusiasm many performers brought to the show made for a fun night at the theater.

At the center of the story, Ben Diamond starred as Ren McCormack, the catalyst for the events that transpire throughout the show. With a pure, strong voice, Diamond sings every note with ease and does not let the simultaneous and sometimes complex dance moves throw him from using each element of a triple threat simultaneously. The role seems to come easily to him, as it does his counterpart, Emily Gudmestad as Ariel. She shared a believable on-stage chemistry with Ren and especially shines when the time comes for her to belt some of the higher notes in many of the songs.

One of the most notable performances in the show was that of Fergus Inder as Ariel’s father, Reverend Moore. He brings a level of realism and emotion to his role that is rarely seen in high school level productions. His scenes, specifically his final ballad near the end of Act II, stand out among the rest and truly move viewers beyond expectations. In an entirely different role, Aaron Argyres provides terrific comic relief to the show as Ren’s best friend and sidekick Willard. He easily slides into the country accent and brings the biggest laughs of the show. His song, “Momma Says,” is a complete crowd pleaser and seemed to really showcase his abilities. Other standouts were Lauren Hill as Rusty, whose fantastic voice made her songs a true pleasure, and Caroline Kidwell as Vi Moore, whose performance was surprisingly touching and realistic.

On the technical side, the show was very strong. Made up of entirely students, the full orchestra always kept up with the music and was loud without overpowering the sounds of the performers. Costume-wise, they were perfectly in time with the era of the show and really brought it to life, along with adding an extra element of fun to the show. The lights were flashy in a suitable way and highlighted elements of the bigger songs. The show ran for the most part quite smoothly thanks to the crew.

Footloose at Clayton High School may not be a show that ponders life’s greater questions, but it’s the kind that gives audiences a wonderful pick me up in the cold months of winter and leaves viewers dancing in the aisles when the curtain comes down.

by Alex Bush of Mary Institute St. louis Country Day School

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