EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - A night of dancing, singing, and excitement started with the iconic foot-tapping tune of Footloose. It washed over the crowd and before long, the only sound in the entire outdoor expanse was coming from the stage.
People began filtering in at 5:30 P.M., hours before showtime, to seek out a good spot with lawn chairs and picnic blankets in tow. Families, couples, and friends filled the lawn in an array of differently-colored chairs, greeted by Playhouse 22 volunteers passing out programs. The smell of zeppoles from nearby food trucks filled the air as people got themselves settled, waiting for the sun to go down, and the stage lights to turn on.
At 8:30 P.M., the audience hushed as the cast thanked their sponsors: Jane Mueller, The Landis Group, Raritan Pharmaceuticals, the East Brunswick Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Brunswick Square Mall. Soon after, teens emerged from either side of the stage decked out in costumes from the 80s, dancing energetically in a club in Chicago before transitioning to the sleepy town of Bomont and its Sunday congregation.
The bright white pews and blue robes of the congregation contrasted sharply with the colorful dance scene of Chicago, as a dismayed Ren McCormack learns as he is introduced to the watchful town and learns its rigid rules and dark history. He vows to change Bomont and legalize dancing before the show cut to intermission, and the audience waited in anticipation for the dancing to return in the final scene.
Footloose incorporated some modern twists on the movie, including several new songs and scenes with hidden superhero outfits, roller skates, and, of course, the budding romance between Ren McCormack and the Reverend’s daughter, Ariel Moore.
After many tense encounters with Ren, Ariel, and his wife Ethel, Reverend Shaw gives an emotional speech accepting that Bomont must move forward and invite happiness and dancing. In the final scene, teens and adults alike join each other at the high school dance and bring the same energy to the floor as they did at the club in Chicago.
As the cast gave their final bow and the lights went down, people were still humming Footloose as they rose from their lawn chairs. Residents can take part in the fun and catch a production of Footloose next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, August 1-3. Tickets are $7.00.