Saturday, August 11, 2012

CCT's Fabulous "Footloose" Fans the Floor at Washougal's Washburn

Wow! Intense!

This show cut loose right from the opening and never let up until the intermission curtain. While the second act was somewhat more introspective, the delightful songs kept the magic alive. The show ended with the same intensity with which it began.

Frankly, (and disappointingly) it’s getting harder and harder to find great, large-scale musicals being presented in Clark County. CCT’s “Footloose” is, therefore, a rare gem. Absolutely stunning!

I had not seen “Footloose”—either the film or stage production—until now. I misunderstood it as a story of religion bashing, racy dancing and wanton rebellion. (I wondered why a Christian theater company would undertake such a production.) Boy, was I so wrong. This is a tale of hurt and healing made through courage and change.

Getting Into the Swing

The ensemble of CCT's "Footloose."
Of course I knew it was a dance show so a high level of expertise is required and expected. I didn’t hold out much hope, but again, I was wrong. The choreography (by Chelsea Nicole) was top notch and the execution stellar.

In fact everything about this show was fantastic! The sets and set changes (coordinated by Mark Martin), the lighting (by Curtis Mueller), the acting, the vocals, the band—absolutely everything—was near perfection. Yes, this is indeed “must see” theater. The band (led by Jeff and Brooke Baker) was spot on and did not overwhelm the vocalists. There were virtually no wireless mic problems (yes, Virginia, this is possible). The costumes were good, but not much more than street clothes.

Claire Flatz and Larry Taylor have a tiff.
The set changes, however, were a model to all SW Washington theaters (watch and learn). The lighting design (while decidedly “old school,” utilizing color scrollers rather than newer LED RGB fixtures which offer a much larger color pallet and smoother changes) was the best I have seen by a local production. The flexible set was pretty cool and utilized extremely well.

Tapping Into Greatness

Every principle shined and the chorus ensemble nearly as wonderful. And the direction by J. Scott Lapp? Oh, wow, wow, wow! (I truly wish I could direct crowd scenes this well.)

As I said, every performance was great, but there were some stunning standouts. In the acting department were Karl Johnson, Amy Michelle Tyler and Kristi L. Foster—who was the cream of the crop. Additionally, her vocals were the very best of the bunch. That is not to say the other leads were not marvelous. Star Robert Head’s dancing was…well, words escape me.

Robert Head and Claire Flatz sing a duet.
There are many great songs in the show, but the most striking numbers were the title song (of course), “Let’s Hear it for the Boys” (which lacked some oomph from the band), “You Can’t Back Down,” and the lovely duet “Almost Paradise” by Head and Claire Flatz, was moving.

However, to be clear, I liked every song and every delivery, though some of the chorus numbers were a tad muddy (so lyrics could be missed). The harmonies were tight and the vocal direction, by Kristi L. Foster, beautifully styled.

All Jazzed Up

The script does offer up some mild profanity and the dancing (occasional I wondered if God was honored by some of the gyrations), was slightly racy at times, plus there is one comedic number that was a bit bawdy. There is some teen drinking and smoking. Still, the show has several important lessons to offer and is decidedly moral in its message.

CCT’s “Footloose” gets my hands down vote for SW Washington’s best musical production of the year—maybe of the decade. I laughed, I cried, I was blown away. Again, this is absolutely a “must see” so cut loose and make room in your schedule.

The run continues 7 p.m., 17, 18; 3 p.m. Aug. 18 and 2 p.m. Aug. 12 and 19 at the Washburn Performing Arts Center, 201 39th St., Washougal, Wash. Admission is $15-18 adults, $12-15 seniors  youth and groups. $10-13 Aug. 11. 360-750-8550.

By Gregory E. Zschomler
All photographs provided

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to comment that I have not seen EVERY musical presented in Clark County over the past decade (for example I missed Clark College's production of "The Producers" (which I heard was vunderbar). My apologies if any production approached or exceeded the quality of this production (which I doubt). Just sayin'...