As everyone but that stubborn Texas donkey on Family Guy knows, it all started with Kevin Bacon as the dance-happy teen Ren back in 1984. Then, it was Herbert Ross who directed Dean Pitchford’s big-screen Footloose. The great John Lithgow was cast as Reverend Shaw Moore, the heavy who won’t let the kids have any fun. Ten years later, Broadway came knocking and Pitchford and his musical collaborators found another champion, this time in Walter Bobbie-the same man who directed the musical Chicago. The musical Footloose was born long before the current craze for turning every film imaginable into Broadway fodder, and it will most likely be around long after the latest fads have faded from memory. On Thursday, January 29, Theater League presents Footloose at the Granada Theatre (1214 State St.). Call 899-2222 or visit granadasb.com for tickets and information. And for a glimpse of what’s in store, read on below.
1) Great dancing: The Granada stage literally was made for this kind of Broadway production, and whether you have never seen a professional show with really big dance numbers, or you’ve seen a hundred of them, this one is sure to thrill you.
2) Footloose endures: The show’s writer and creator, Dean Pitchford, lives right here in Santa Barbara, and he recently described how the show was made to last, saying, “We were very conscious about not writing in any of the musical idioms of the day and, as a result, the show ended up having nothing in it that now sounds dated. The same for the setting-Footloose happens in the same archetypal allegory space as Oklahoma!“
3) Reverend Shaw Moore: The character of the repressive minister with a tragic past was played by actor John Lithgow in the film version of Footloose. Wait for the moment when he and the rebellious Ren finally connect. It’s the emotional center of the night, and the theater goes dead quiet when it comes. Goosebumps? Absolutely.
4) A star is born: In this national touring production, the part of Reverend Shaw Moore belongs to talented newcomer Glenn Wall, who rules the stage with his physical presence and commanding, clear voice. A year ago, Wall was the postmaster of Bourne, Massachusetts, and had no Broadway experience. But after unusually successful turns as Daddy Warbucks in Annie and Major General in Pirates of Penzance, both for the local Falmouth Theater Guild, the 40-plus-year-old Wall quit his day job and moved to New York. Just six months later, and he has the second lead in a national touring show. I guess you can change your life.
5) “One kid. One town. One chance.” ‘Nuff said.