Actual bouncing off walls, excitement, enthusiasm and synchronized choreography – and that was just maneuvering into a parking space out front!
Footloose Director Nicholas Jullian Saadipour and his trio of Quince Orchard High School Student Directors Bree Kooienga, Madhur Vinaik and Emilie Prince pumped the energy into the High School performers who danced their way into the hearts of a giddy opening night audience. Every minute was packed with the exuberance and emotion created by the Technical Direction team of Alexander Henry and Kent Reed. The live orchestra music was spot on and vibrant under Conductor Robyn Kleiner-Vilgos. Special mention goes to the Sound Team Anthony Marin and Ryan Omerso for creating the sensation of an actual freight train crossing from stage left to stage right! Well done. And congratulations to hair and make-up team Kim and Kate Penn who transformed many of the teenage cast members into believable grown-ups!
Footloose tells the story of Ethel and her son Ren McCormack, played by Lilia Karapetyan and Eli Schwartz, who pull up stakes from Chicago and move to the rural surroundings of Bomont, GA. Tension is instantly apparent upon their arrival. Having been abandoned by Ren’s dad, mother, and son take up residence with Ren’s aunt Lulu and uncle Wes Warnicker, played by Fareen Chowdhury and Mason Radis.
Bomont is under virtual lockdown as a consequence of a deadly auto accident following a school dance. Reverend Shaw Moore, played by Kenny Smith-Rodriguez, rules over the town council to enforce a ban on dancing and rock and roll music! The harder Rev. Moore pushes for control the more distant his wife Vi and daughter Ariel, played by Zoe Lee and Tobi Baisburd, become. This undercurrent is beautifully presented in the heartfelt and poignant duet “Learning to be Silent” featuring Vi and Ethel.
Ariel is automatically drawn to the new city boy Ren – much to the displeasure of both her father and boyfriend Chuck Cranston played by Alex Roth. Kudos to the costume team of Lisa MacPhee, Susan Goldberg, and Kristen Tapia. I thought the tattoo sleeves completed the local bully image to a Tee! The differences are all too much for Ren to absorb until he encounters, confronts and befriends good-ol-boy Willard Hewitt played by Alex Chase. His costume may be the hit of the show – Overalls Rock! Willard schools Ren on the local customs while Ren attempts to elevate Willard to ‘cool’.
Ariel is goaded, encouraged, mocked and worshiped by her entourage: Rusty, Wendy Jo, Urleen, and friends, played by Maxine Asenso, Elena Asofsky, Annie Coulson, Camille Booth, and Madelyn Fox. This comical supporting crew hit every mark and garnered attention with every step on stage. I was especially awed during “Holding Out for A Hero” which I privately dubbed “Hold On for a Hair Flip” when the stage was filled with whirling, twirling, swirling pony-tails of every color and texture. What an experience!
When Ren spearheads a movement to bring life back to this stilted town the stage vibrates with enthusiasm, joy and celebration!
Director Saadipour acknowledges his endeavor to elevate QO’s drama team by incorporating the challenges of difficult choreography with their excellent dramatic and vocal skills. I think the judges scores were 10s across the board. Every element of this production reveals the commitment, effort, and success from this highly talented cast, company, and ensemble.
Well done everybody – A truly elevated performance!
Running Time: Two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
Footloose plays through April 1, 2017 at Quince Orchard High School – 15800 Quince Orchard Road, in Gaithersburg, MD.For tickets, email QOTheaterTickets@gmail.com, buy them at the door, or purchase them online.