In a town where dancing is outlawed, only outlaws will dance. Everything about the 1984 movie Footloose appealed to American consumer culture's ironic affinity for rebels. How could anybody fail to recognize that this film, with its chock-full-of-hits soundtrack, was destined to become a generational touchstone?
Roger Ebert missed it. Like so many critics of the era, he hated the film, claiming in the first line of his review that the blue-collar fantasy was a "seriously confused movie that tries to do three things, and does all of them badly." "It's possible that no movie with this many agendas can be good," he complained.
Good or not, after 29 years the film is still popular, Memphis director/screenwriter Craig Brewer has just dropped the trailer for his $30 million remake, and the Broadway musical of Footloose — a perky adaptation that also thumbed its nose at an unimpressed chorus of critics — opens at Playhouse on the Square on July 1st.
The stage adaptation isn't technically a jukebox musical, although it does include selections from the soundtrack such as the Denise Williams' "Let's Hear It for the Boy," Bonnie Tyler's anthemic "Holding Out for a Hero," and the bouncy title track made famous by Kenny Loggins.
Shorey Walker, who directed the regional premiere of The Who's Tommy and choreographed the award-winning Hairspray, returns to Playhouse to direct. Also returning to Memphis after a long absence is Kyle Barnett, who played the Marquis de Sade in Playhouse on the Square's Quills. Barnett will give a very different kind of performance this time around as the tightly wound Reverend Shaw Moore.
"Footloose" at Playhouse on the Square, July 1st-24th. playhouseonthesquare.org.