By David Lefkowitz
and Robert Simonson and Robert Viagas
09 Sep 1998
This past weekend, Martin Vidnovic suffered voice trouble and didn't perform in the Broadway-bound try-out of the musical Footloose, playing at Washington DC's Kennedy Center through Sept. 20. As first noted by InTheater's website, Vidnovic was not back in the cast on Monday, though his weekend ailment apparently was not the reason.
According to a Boneau/Bryan-Brown spokesperson (Sept. 9), director Walter Bobbie and the actor decided "by mutual agreement" that Vidnovic would leave the role of Reverend Shaw Moore. No further comment was made about the differences leading to this agreement.
Understudy Stephen Lee Anderson has taken over the role, though the press office wouldn't comment on whether the producers were seeking another "name" to replace Vidnovic for the New York mounting, due to begin previews Oct. 2 and open Oct. 22 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Vidnovic's previous NY theatre credits include Olympus On My Mind, Baby and King David.
Footloose, the stage adaptation of the 1984 film, began previews in DC Aug. 25 and opened to mixed reviews there Aug. 29. No further casting changes have been made, and there's still no news on the show's plans for a CD cast recording (as of Sept. 9).
In happier news, a U.S. tour of Footloose is also planned. According to show spokesperson Susanne Tighe, the road company will begin rehearsals in New York Nov. 9 -- a little over two weeks after the Broadway debut. The tour will then begin previews in Cleveland Dec. 15.
As for DC/Broadway, Jeremy Kushnier (the Toronto production of Rent) stars as Ren McCormack, the teen newcomer to a rural town where dancing is banned as sinful and dangerous. The story follows his acceptance into the local crowd, the winning of a girlfriend, and his battle with the local fundamentalist preacher, Reverend Shaw Moore (Stephen Lee Anderson).
Co-starring are two-time Tony nominee Dee Hoty (The Will Rogers Follies, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public) as Vi Moore, the Reverend's wife; Jennifer Laura Thompson (national tour of Carousel) as Ariel Moore, the Reverend's rebellious daughter, with whom Ren falls in love; Catherine Cox (Baby) as Ethel McCormick; and Tom Plotkin (Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back) as Ren's friend, Willard Hewitt.
Also in the cast are Robin Baxter, Catherine Campbell, Rosalind Brown, John Deyle, Staci Francis, Billy Hartung, John Hillner, Adam LeFevre, Donna Lee Marshall, Nick Sullivan, and Kathy Deitch.
Ensemble players include Jim Ambler, Billy Angell, Susan Bigelow, Angela Brydon, Ben Cameron, Bryant Carroll, Paul Castree, Hunter Foster, Kristen Leigh Gorski, Jamie Gustis, Artie Harris, Sean Haythe, Elizabeth Paige Hinton, Lori Holmes, Katherine Leonard, Brad Madison, Jeanine Meyers, Mary K. Myars, Orfeh [sic], JoAnna Ross and Serena Soffer.
The original film had a cast including Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Diane Wiest, John Lithgow, Christopher Penn and Sarah Jessica Parker. Its songs lingered on the pop charts for months. The musical's score includes many of those Top 40 hits, such as "Footloose," "Let's Hear It for the Boy," "Almost Paradise," and "Holding Out for a Hero," by the likes of Kenny Loggins, Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar and Jim Steinman (Steinman did lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind), plus nine new songs written for this stage adaptation by Tom Snow. The lyrics are by Dean Pitchford. The stage adaptation is by Pitchford and director Walter Bobbie. The choreographer is theatre newcomer A.C. Ciulla, whose credits include several acclaimed music videos.
Here is the Footloose songlist, as of the first preview:
"Footloose" -- Ren and Company
"On Any Sunday" -- Rev. Shaw, Moore and Company
"The Girl Gets Around" -- Chuck, Ariel, Travis and Lyle
"I Can't Stand Still" -- Ren
"Somebody's Eyes" -- Rusty, Wendy Jo, Urleen and Company
"Learning To Be Silent" -- Vi, Ethel
"Holding Out For A Hero" -- Ariel, Rusty, Wendy Jo and Urleen
"Somebody's Eyes" (reprise) -- Rusty, Wendy Jo and Urleen "Heaven Help Me" -- Shaw
"I'm Free/Heaven Help Me/On Any Sunday" -- Ren, Shaw and Company
"Still Rockin'" -- Irene and the Country Kickers
"Let's Hear It For the Boy" -- Rusty and Company
"Can You Find It In Your Heart?" -- Vi
"Mama Says" -- Willard and the Boys
"Almost Paradise" -- Ren and Ariel
"Dancing Is Not A Crime" -- Ren and the Boys
"I Confess" -- Shaw
"On Any Sunday" (reprise) -- Company
"Can You Find It In Your Heart?" (reprise) -- Shaw
"Footloose" (reprise) -- Company
Sets are by John Lee Beatty, costumes by Toni Leslie-James and lighting by Ken Billington. The musical director and vocal arranger is Doug Katsaros.
Ticket for the Broadway production are now on sale via Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100. Outside the metro NY area: (800) 755-4000. Tickets for the DC Kennedy Center production are on sale by calling (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324.