Playing thru October 23, 2010

DRAPER – I had a smile on my face nearly the entire show tonight (with the exception of the scenes I shouldn’t be happy).  Draper Historic Theater’s (DHT) production of Footloose made me smile.  Not necessarily because it brought down the house with talent, but because it had heart.I attend the theater because I love it. I understand that not everyone gets into it the way I do. Okay, 99.67% of the world doesn’t attend the theater as often as I do. From Broadway shows in New York to Children’s Theater in American Fork – I love all of it. And tonight, I felt the love of theater.

I got a little nervous as I entered the theater, boarded up windows scream scary to me.  However, the framed posters of past productions, the smell of fresh popcorn and the genuinely nice people who greeted me overshadowed the missing carpets and hammered interior.  So much so, that I really didn’t notice these things until the charming gal who welcomed us to the show (and she was absolutely charming) mentioned the run down state of the theater.

It seems that DHT has recently experienced some major vandalism.  As our charming host welcomed us, she thanked those in the sparse audience for the donations and support during this time.  I bring this up because this little struggling historic theater, with it broken out windows, and handful of patrons – screams heart.  It is why I love the theater.  Theater is about sharing, about being part of something, and experiencing it with others.  The people in this production put their hearts into it and you could feel that.

Footloose is an iconic piece of pop-culture that I grew up with.  In fact, it was one of my most played soundtracks in middle school.  And just last night I ate dinner in Lehi across the street from the Mills where a scene from the show was filmed.  I worried how well it would transfer from screen to stage.  Surprisingly enough, the memorable tunes were incorporated into the show brilliantly and it was fun to see the characters use the songs as part of their story lines.

The leads, Cody Crabb (Ren) and Kimberly Robbins (Ariel) held their own. I believed their story and their chemistry.  Crabb reminded me several times of Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black in Twilight).  M Ryan Taylor as Rev. Shaw had the best voice of the show, and I loved to sit back and lose myself in his singing.

I also loved the youth in this show.  They were young and the show is about high school students so it actually worked to the shows credit.  They were not the polished youth that you would find in TV shows like 90210 or Gossip Girls, they were truly small town kids.

Jake Kelly as Willard was hilarious and added such goofiness to the production.  When the guys tried to teach him to dance was one of the highlights of the show and the dancing in that scene was done well. Nathan Leach as Chuck was a great actor.  I found that he really held onto the character, even when in the backdrop of a scene. I appreciated this because it was rare with the other actors.  Janette Matern as Vi was one of the better singers of the show.

For a show about dancing, the dancing was painful. The choreography felt childlike and immature.  Perhaps, if it was rehearsed more and the dancers were on beat and together, it would improve the quality drastically.  The group dancing scenes were nearly humorous with people running into each other, looking to others for cues and in general – chaos.

The sound was another area that needed some serious help. I know these songs and love them. I nearly have all the lyrics committed to memory and at times I couldn’t decipher what they were signing. The sound system is obviously cheap and in dire needs of replacement.  On that note, I suppose fixing the windows is more important than a sound system – but, it was still incredibly distracting.

The ensemble could have been better used, instead of just standing there staring, at least pretend to be engaged in conversation or something. And the trio of girls was hard to watch as well. They were not consistent, with one really loud and another really quite. They were rarely in step with each other and more than once, struggled on when to actually start singing together.

I say all this so the patron knows that they are not going to get a mind-blowing night of talent. However, I said it before, I had a smile nearly the entire time. I provide feedback for patron and theater alike, but as a patron myself – would I go again? Yes!  I really did enjoy myself and the heart of the show, the reason I love the theater was 100% there.  You could feel it the second you walked in the door to when you left with the actors thanking you for coming – these people love what they do.  That love is contagious! Because they love it, I enjoyed my night. Could they do with some more rehearsal time?  Probably.  Did they seem happy to be there? Absolutely!

As the tag line on their website says -“Little stage….Big Shows, Big Fun, Big Heart!”

This is community theater and for $7-11 a ticket – you can’t go wrong.

Footloose is playing through October 23, 2010 at the Draper Historic Theater located at 12366 South 900 East in Draper, UT. Tickets range from $7-11 and can be purchased at