Monday, October 14, 2019

"Footloose" at the Kennedy Center

Content warning: physical abuse
I've written before about the inherent contradictions in "High School Musical 2"s "I Don't Dance" number. A musical obviously asks for some suspension of disbelief. But a musical in which you watch everyone on stage dance at regular intervals and yet most of the characters are theoretically requesting permission to dance as the signature plot point, well you have to keep thinking about how you're suspending your disbelief. But of course dancing is a metaphor.
The cast was wonderful. For fans on the movie (either version) the basic plot and music you loved are there with some additions. It is a testament to how carefully each song for the original movie was selected that they work so well when performed by the characters. It is a jukebox musical that doesn't feel like one.
The "Somebody's Eyes" number did some choreography with flashlights that worked so well for me.
J. Quinton Johnson and Judy Kuhn are both such talents that I could understand why anyone would cast them as mother and son given the chance. I will note that colorblind casting can sometimes lead to additional dynamics the show doesn't have space to explore. In this case, for me, having Ren be Black made his trouble fitting in almost make more sense, but your mileage may vary on that.
Minimal staging and short rehearsal time meant one gym period number had folks literally dropping balls. The ensemble handled it well, and it was funny to watch even if that hadn't been what the director or choreographer intended.
I continue to enjoy this Center Stage series.