For most of 2020 there was a nationwide mandate against dancing. Imagine if it had been a permanent ban. Welcome to life in Bomont.
For most of 2020 there was a nationwide mandate against dancing, even for being six feet apart. Just imagine if it had been a permanent ban. Welcome to life in Bomont. Bomont is the setting for the high-energy production of Footloose: The Musical, based on the 1984 film, at Lacomedia Dinner Theatre in Springboro.
After tragic car accident cost a group of teenagers their lives, the town of Bomont set a law against any type of dancing. If only there was social media in Bomont, the posts of outrage would burn the eyes. Instead, the fight for freedom is led by Ren McCormack, who is new to town from Chicago. Ren is determined to bring some fun to Bomont, or at least some two-stepping. However, first he must change the mind of the all righteous Reverend and the city council.
The role of Ren is played by Jonathan Smithe aka Jonathan Ham Hock, due to his channeling of Kevin Bacon for the performance. He sings, dances, and even roller skates in perfect harmony. Smithe/Ham Hock especially excels though in his confrontations with the Rev. His delivery of one line in particular during an emotional exchange between them, lands so hard the entire audience feels it. Isn’t that what theatre is all about? Along with some sweet potato soufflé.
Maybe it was her red boots, or splendid voice, or radiant beauty or all three combined but Mallory Georgia Marie is magnetizing as the vixen Ariel. The minister’s daughter is far from pristine, but is rebellious against her father’s rulings. Ariel is a role that Marie was born to play, though I’d gladly watch her in anything (Another ‘Church Basement Ladies’ not included).
Chris Kramer has played a member of the clergy so many times, he could be ordained. All his performances are out of this world anyway, so it’s only fitting that he doubles as a man of the cloth. Of all his ministerial roles, Rev. Shaw Moore is the heaviest. His son was one of the teens killed in the tragic accident, so he has a heavy cross to bear. In all seriousness, Kramer is very versatile and always fills whatever part is needed and never disappoints, but really excels when the drama is high. This is Kramer at his best.
Despite the talents of the cast members already mentioned, a highlight of Footloose is the supporting players. Deciding which one stole the show is a monumental task. A strong contender is Digger Howard as Willard. I’d be willing to bet that Howard has stolen more scenes than any theatrical actor in the country over the past two years. He specializes in dimwitted characters, and Willard couldn’t pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel. His singing of ‘Mama Says’ is most charming. Willard may have two left feet, but everything is right with Howard’s performance.
Equally as impressive though is Katie Ann Bonavita as Rusty. She delivers some great one liners and has a radiant voice. Though she starred as Ariel in ‘The Little Mermaid’ earlier this year and was also in ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder’ this was my favorite performance of hers. Her rendition of ‘Let’s Hear It for the Boy’ was the highlight vocally. She was part of a tremendous trio of friends, along with Allison Gabert (Wendy Jo) and Tori Kocher (Urleen). They each played a part in being the difference between a good show and a great one.
For some extra entertainment, keep an eye on how many different characters Christopher Wells plays. I would say it’s a higher number than Willard could count, but that’s anything over two and it’s more than that. I lost track myself.
As an added bonus, the gift shop is open for the first time all year. Stop in to browse around the assortment of unique gifts. There’s many months of missed shopping opportunities to make up for. I must also make mention of my wife’s favorite Fried Green Tomatoes on the buffet. She claims that La Comedia has the best. It’s one of the few things I don’t eat, so I have to take her word for it. By the way, she’s always right.