"FOOTLOOSE," SCERA, through July 19 (225-2569), running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes (one intermission)

OREM — In many ways the musical "Footloose," playing at the SCERA Shell, is the ideal summer production.

There's an abundance of movement, energy and enthusiasm. It features catchy music that inspires the audience to dance. And there's plenty of talent.

This stage version uses a reworked script that tries to bridge the conflict between town leaders and youths and achieves some success. When the script is focused on the teens and their challenges of living in a small town — where dancing is forbidden and books are banned — it's a lively, engaging piece.

But when the focus is on the Rev. Shaw Moore (Neal Anderson), who leads the dancing prohibition, it becomes too earnest and sometimes plodding. These scenes are intended to express his attempts to save a town from temptations, which the audience later learns are related to a tragedy that hit his home.

The play, under the direction of Neal Anderson, is crammed with talented performers. Geoffrey Reynolds plays Ren McCormack, who is reeling from his father's abandonment and the move from his native Chicago. His is a lustrous performance that ably demonstrates his acting, singing and dancing talents.

Reynolds gets nice support from Krystyna Davies as Ariel Moore, the reverend's rebellious daughter. Real delight comes from Summerisa Bell as Rusty, who plays ditsy with great verve, and A.J. Nielsen as Willard Hewitt, her would-be boyfriend.

Anderson, who has the unenviable role as the Rev. Moore, has a powerful and superb voice.

The set, which is done in bold blocks of purple, green, blue and red, seamlessly suggests many settings, whether it's a city, a small town, a burger joint, a spot under a train bridge, a junkyard, a home or a church. It even becomes a great place to dance at a gigantic barbecue hoedown. The stage allows the space for the dozens of performers to appear simultaneously while maintaining an interesting intimacy.

Kellie Messerly's clever choreography allows for a range of dancing abilities. All were adequate.

"Footloose" had a very good opening night. A few minor vocal glitches did little to detract from the clever staging and the authentic feel of a small town.


Charlene Renberg Winters is a freelance writer who works as the director of communications and marketing for BYU alumni. E-mail: [email protected]