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August 1, 2017 > StarStruck gets its groove on with lively ÔFootlooseÕ

StarStruck gets its groove on with lively ÔFootlooseÕ

By Julie Grabowski

Ren McCormack lives by the lively beat of his Chicago home and his dancing feet. But when he and his mother find themselves in financial straits after being abandoned by his father, they must leave the big, bold, and never boring city to move in with his aunt and uncle in a small town. Everyone is suspicious of the new boy, and Ren is despondent over the lack of movies, malls, and anything to do. When he breaks out some dance moves at school, he is quickly informed that dancing is forbidden in the town.

Living in the shadow of a deadly accident that happened five years ago, the Reverend Shaw Moore has the residents of Bomont laced up tightly against the dangerous influences of drinking, drugs, rock and roll, and dancing. Though he has a handle on the town, he canÕt control his willful daughter, Ariel, who challenges his rules. As one who has always turned to dance for release and joy, Ren sets out to change the closed-minded town and get approval for a school dance. The time has come for healing and a return to life; and for people to realize that dancing is not a crime.

Delivered with exceptional style and flair, StarStruck Theatre presents ÒFootloose,Ó
a Tony Award-nominated musical based on the 1984 movie starring Kevin Bacon. Producer and director Lori Stokes is a master at orchestrating a large cast and creating engaging, finely executed productions, and ÒFootlooseÓ is another notch in her belt. Staging, vocals, and excellent choreography courtesy of Lillian Kautz harmonize for a thoroughly entertaining evening. Recognizable songs and new additions make a great soundtrack, expertly delivered by the 11-member orchestra under the direction of Nancy Godfrey.

James Misa is an easy and likable Ren who definitely has the moves, perhaps best showcased in the exuberant ÒI CanÕt Stand Still.Ó Ally Abonador puts on the attitude as rebel Ariel and delivers the necessary spark. What doesnÕt spark, however, is the romance between the two, the relationship never really elevating beyond comfortable friendship.

The strict Reverend Shaw Moore is given heart by Nick Jordan Saud who creates more of a concerned and world-weary man instead of an outright tyrant.

Isabel Garcia (Rusty), Mehaa Mekala (Urleen), and Aija Le (Wendy Jo) are a lively and fun trio of friends that never fail to get the laughs. All have excellent voices and impress in one of the showÕs best numbers ÒSomebodyÕs Eyes,Ó and Garcia packs an impressive punch on her own in ÒLetÕs Hear It for the Boy.Ó Together with Abonador, the girls deliver another winning number in ÒHolding Out for a Hero,Ó which makes great use of Isaac Gordon as white-clad dream cowboy.

While entertaining, David KautzÕs Willard comes off as more of a character than an actual person, and sets him a bit out of balance with the other performances. Kautz does have a wonderful gift for physical comedy, which is on full display in ÒLetÕs Hear It for the Boy.Ó

Simi Sen (Ethel) and Anne Marie Salgado (Vi) give the show strong and relatable mothers, and have a moving duet in ÒLearning To Be Silent.Ó Despite the brief appearance, Sierra Bolar is a memorable delight as the roller skate-wearing Burger Blast proprietor Betty Blast.

Stephen C. WathenÕs set design is fluid and flexible, his mobile pieces creating easy transitions between diverse locales like the church, the MooreÕs kitchen, gas station, school, gym, and Burger Blast restaurant. A fixed bridge in the background anchors the set, and the use of scenic backdrops completes the excellent visuals.

While dealing with some serious themes, ÒFootlooseÓ is an exuberant, playful show that encourages opening up, letting loose, and celebrating the gift of life.

Friday, Jul 28 Ð Sunday, Aug 13
7:30 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.
Smith Center at Ohlone College
43600 Mission Blvd, Fremont
(510) 659-1319
Tickets: $30 Ð $32

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