(The cast performing the finally scene during Arts Collective Theatre’s opening night of Footloose The Musical at Capitol Theatre Windsor on September 6, 2019. Photo above by Rene Tremblay Photography.)
In L. Frank Baum’s the Wizard of Oz, central character Dorothy finds herself no longer in Kansas. In Arts Collective Theatre’s blockbuster production of Footloose, now playing at downtown’s Capitol Theatre, protagonist Ren finds himself no longer in Chicago and therein lies the plot foundation of one of the 1980’s most popular cinematic musical dramas.
Ren is of course high school student Ren McCormick, newly arrived in tiny town Bomont and played with adept frustration by Floyd Nolan-Ducedre. He masterfully brings to the surface the bubbling emotions of a young teen with no father – his left one day to find himself and never came back – suffering the indignity of ending up in a place with less than nothing to do. Dancing is even unlawful. Something he later sorts out.
In rapid sequence, he befriends one of the most local of yokels and the town’s preacher’s daughter whose lips have been kissed by more than a few of the native hayseeds.
Kyle Cloutier plays the lovable bumpkin Willard Hewitt who quickly bonds with the audience, mostly for his innocence and his corny repeats of the things his mother told him. Scriptwriter Dean Pritchard takes Willard to an even higher level with a right from the heart song and dance plainly titled Mama Says. Some of those sayings border on being abstractly logical like Mama saying you should never buy a chandelier if you don’t have a ceiling. Such small-town homilies and Williard’s affected southern hillbilly accent, which Cloutier delivers flawlessly, make him loved from the get-go.
Ren’s other new friend is Ariel Moore, played hauntingly flirtatiously by Gillian Marshall. Costume designer Tatayana Wiebe and costume director Valentine Yaghoubzaden accent the point with Ariel’s fringed red cowboy boots which are not on her father’s most loved list.
A memorable highlight is Ren and Ariel’s tender rendition of the beloved Footloose classic Almost Paradise. Director Chris Rabideau has expertly put two very matched voices together and in the wake of his effort leaves the audience spellbound.
Kianna Porter, playing Ariel’s mother, also casts a spell over the theatre with her solo Can You Find It In Your Heart and delivers one of the most uplifting lines in the show. Trying to repair the spirits of her discouraged preacher husband, played by George Kelso with absolute and quite appropriate rigidness, she reminds him his preaching ability is so special he elevates the congregation so high, “they have to look down to see heaven.”
There is not an actor who doesn’t ring true with the audience, but one stands-out, Angela Ibrahim in the role of Urleen.
Putting everything she has, and some things she probably doesn’t know she has, she masterfully and beautifully displays her character’s anger, happiness and Joie de vivre. This despite her youth.
All of the 30-member cast are actually under 30 years of age. Footloose is the explosively foot tapping result of ACT’s 30 Under 30. This summer program gives aspiring young thespians an opportunity to prove their skills while being mentored by local artists. Make no mistake, cast members are highly talented. It took them only eight weeks to put the musical together. Certainly, this is no easy task given the amount of choreographed action on the stage which, at times, can have all 30 actors moving about. Choreographer Jolie Katembo and assistant Mackenzie Betteridge earn well-deserved kudos.
ACT Artistic Director Rabideau tells Eyes on Windsor the objective of bringing Footloose to Windsor was for the city to have some fun while enjoying its very popular songs. He certainly succeeds with beloved rocking tunes and incredible acting, singing and dancing.
Drummer Damon Soumas, lead guitarist Logan Fletcher, bassist Mike Molnar and rhythm guitarist Verzell Lexzon, do exceptional music with the musical’s trademark Footloose as well as crowd favourite’s Holding Out for a Hero and Let’s Hear It For the Boy and many more.
Leading the band and helping to bring the high energy production to life with it’s fantastic musical score, was first time musical director, Valene Daniel. She also played keyboards during the show. The multi-award-winning classic pianist, multi-instrumentalist, and music teacher, blew audiences away with her vocals during ACT Windsor’s 2018 inaugural Community Project production of Dreamgirls in the lead role of Deena Jones.
Music credits go to Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford with lyrics by Pitchford. Stage Adaptation is by Pitchford himself and Walter Bobbie with additional songs by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins and Jim Steinman.
Final performances take place on September 13, 14, & 15 at Capitol Theatre Windsor. For more information visit the ACT Windsor Footloose The Musical event listing on our website.
ACT Windsor 5 Year Anniversary Celebration
ACT Windsor is celebrating their 5th Anniversary of social justice, education, training, and community building using theatrical arts, with an evening of food, entertainment, and awards at the Fogolar Furlan Club on November 7. For more information or to purchase tickets contact ACT Windsor by emailing email@example.com
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.
Photos by Rene Tremblay
For over 25 years Rene Tremblay has been a passionate photographer, more recently shooting many local fashion shows, theatre, and pageants. He is a managing partner at Milestone Photography Studio and more of his photos and contact information can be found on his Rene Tremblay Photography Facebook page.