Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre FootlooseBy Roman Gusso • Jul 20th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre
Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre, Frederick, MD
Through August 25th
2:00 with intermission
Reviewed July 15th, 2012
Making musicals out of movies is a tradition that started long ago. From Miracle on 34th Street to The Full Monty, this genre never seems to have any limits. In the mid 1980s, Hollywood released a box office smash hit Footloose starring Kevin Bacon. For those who were in their early or mid teens then, that movie will always have a very special place in their hearts. In the late 90s, Footloose was brought alive into a full-blown song and heavy dance stage production. Since then, it became one of the most popular produced shows for the community/high school/and dinner theatre.
The plot hasn’t changed much. A divorced mom named Ethel (Jessica Billones) and her teenage son, Ren (Patrick J. Prebula) leave the inner city of Chicago and move to a small, rural, God-loving town of Bomont, Texas. The town is controlled by Reverend Shaw Moore (Jordan B. Stocksdale), a preacher with a submissively loving wife, Vi (Alexandra Garcia Guyker), and a teenage rebellious daughter Ariel (Leah Bebee), who’s looking to find herself and the acceptance and love of her father. As we soon find out, the town has a dark past and many secrets, strict rules and laws, and an ordinance for absolutely no dancing anywhere at any time. Obviously young Ren clashes heads with the Reverend and the elders of the community, but by gaining trust, admiration, and respect by his friend Willard (Jason Harding Beall), Ariel’s friends, Rusty (Kedren Spencer), Urleen (Natalie Stephenson), Wendy Jo (Morgan Lash) and the rest of the teenage population, they overcome the bigotry and the narrow-mindedness of the elders. They restore the town to heal its wounds and journey on to the future with a stronger outlook on life.
Way Off Broadway’s production of Footloose is anything but. As a matter of fact, the production has two left feet. For the exception of Stockdale’s touching and simple portrayal of a man in pain, beautiful vocal delivery at all times, Beal’s energetic, spot on vocals, and comic performance, and the decent performance from Spencer, Stephenson, and Lash, the rest of the production and cast is quite weak, mediocre, and unmemorable. Though Prebula tries quite hard, he is vocally unfit, physically miscast, and he spends most of the show trying to get from one line to another without evoking any emotions or understanding of the script. Bebee’s portrayal of Ariel is misinterpreted, over the top, and confusing. Instead of portraying a teenager lost, she comes across as a hardcore, unsympathetic rebel. Vocally she does okay, but misses the beauty and understanding of the lyrics and music.
The staging seemed cluttered and unorganized; the choreography was very amateurish and not executed well. The sets, costumes, and props were what you’d expect to find at a second-rate high school production. I wish that something more positive could be said about the dinner portion of the afternoon, but unfortunately, the minimal school cafeteria style buffet that consisted of such things as dry chicken, soggy caeser salad, and bland sides did not live up to the almost $50 per head admission to its theatre goers. Also, the buffet was cleared, unannounced with half of the audience not being able to get seconds, that is if you like dry chicken.
So after spending my afternoon in Frederick, Maryland; the only I could say was “Heaven Help Me.”
Photos provided by Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre
- (In order of Appearance)
- Ren McCormack: Patrick J. Prebula
- Ethel McCormack: Jessica Billones
- Reverend Shaw Moore: Jordan B. Stocksdale
- Vi Moore: Alexandra Garcia Guyker
- Ariel Moore: Leah Bebee
- Lulu Warnicker: Sheila Cunningam
- Wes Warnicker: Anthony Marchese
- Coach Dunbar: Michael Lacone
- Rusty: Kedren Spencer
- Urleen: Natalie Stephenson
- Wendy Jo: Morgan Lash
- Chuck Cranston: Matthew Crawford
- Lyle: Jordan C. Allen
- Travis: Anthony Marchese
- Betty Blast: Jessica Billones
- Willard Hewitt: Jason Harding Beall
- Jeter: Tommy Evich
- Bickle: Joseph Waeyaert
- Irene: Sarah Biggs
- Cowboy Bob: Michael Iacone
- Ensemble: Jordan C. Allen, Sarah Biggs, Matthew Crawford, Sheila Cunningham, Tommy Evich, Michael Iacone, Anthony Marchese, Joseph Waeyaert
- At this performance, the role of Lulu Warnicker, usually played by Sheila Cunningham, was played by Shannon Wells
Behind the Scences
- Director: Bill Kiska
- Choreographer: Amanda Patten
- Music Director: Jordan B. Stocksdale
- Assistant Director: Genevieve Williams
- Stage Manager: Jessica Billones
- Orchestra Recording: Custom Broadway Mimi
- Lighting Design: Justin M. Kiska
- Light Board Operator: Trey T. Kiska
- Sound Operator: Laura Walling
- Set Design: Bill Kiska, Jordan B. Stocksdale
- Set ConstructionBill Kiska, Trey T. Kiska, Jordan B. Stocksdale
- Costumes: Bill Kiska, Jessica Billones
- Wigs: April Horn of Hair Worx Salon
Disclaimer: Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://maryland.showbizradio.com/goto/304.
Roman Gusso worked for twenty years as a professional actor and director, as well as working in a myriad of other theatrical production roles at various levels. In recent years, he served as Artistic Director/President of STROyKA Theatre in Washington, DC. Roman currently privately teaches acting, voice, and piano and serves as a consultant to various groups and schools. Mostly, he is enjoying his best role ever as a husband and father of four.