Theatre Under the Stars
Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park
July 14 - August 21
Theatre Under the Stars is one of the great Vancouver institutions,
although it’s not named as accurately as it could be. True,
by the time darkness falls after intermission on a clear night,
you’re watching musical theatre under the stars. But that
could be the case in any outdoor playhouse. The real beauty of TUTS
is that you get to watch it outdoors in glorious Stanley Park. In
Act One of Footloose when
our rebellious hero Ren lets out a shout, the eagle nesting atop
one of the tall cedars overlooking Malkin Bowl starts to chirp and
twitter. In how many other theatres can an actor get upstaged by
Based on the movie with Kevin Bacon, Sarah Jessica Parker as a
small-town gal(!), and a pop score by the likes of Kenny Loggins
and Sammy Hagar, Footloose
tells the story of a big-city boy who moves to an uptight small
town and teaches it how to rock out, dancing off with the hotblooded
daughter of the town’s puritanical preacher, who has a ridiculous
change of heart at the end. It’s a pretty generic story that,
in this version, almost grinds to a sorry halt by spending way too
much time with the boring subplot of the preacher and his wife.
But when it sticks with the young folks, this show really flies.
Driving it are a surprising number of very good songs—especially
the uptempo “Footloose,” “The Girl Gets Around”
and “Let’s Hear It for the Boy”—along with
fine performances from the attractive young principals, and a large,
energetic ensemble of dancers. Danny Balkwell is terrific as Ren,
his dancing a standout. Katie Murphy matches his singing and dancing
as the sexiest preacher’s daughter TUTS has seen in years.
And her talented chorus of girlfriends—Alana Hibbert, Sophie
Olson and Daniella Goodman—are real crowd-pleasers.
Every so often you’re reminded by some coarse and undisciplined
acting (I know it’s called Footloose, but sometimes an actor
just has to stand still for a few seconds) that this is a mostly
amateur cast. But it’s still a delightful show, one of the
best theatrical deals in town, and a quintessential Vancouver experience.
Note: I made a mistake in the original draft of this review which
I've now corrected, confusing Footloose
with Dirty Dancing and so
putting Jennifer Grey in the movie. This was sloppy writing on my
part--I neglected to fact-check using imdb.com.
If you catch any errors in my reviews, please let me know.