My experience with community theater musicals is that the top of the cast list is pretty strong, and diminishes once you’re past the leads. Not so with the South Valley Civic Theatre (SVCT) production of ‘Footloose, the Musical,’ Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie’s stage adaptation of the 1984 movie starring Kevin Bacon.
Directed by Alan Chipman with vocal direction by Joy Reynolds and choreographed by Jyovonne Montosa, this cast of high school students shows some serious vocal chops all the way through the story of a city boy transplanted to a country town where rock music and dancing have been banned.
The show’s star is newcomer Edie Garcia-Flores, a newcomer to the SVCT company and a most excellent addition to their stable of actors. As Ren, the misfit Chicago kid who winds up in close-minded Bomont with his newly-single mother, Garcia-Flores powers his way through “I Can’t Stand Still,” “Dancing is Not a Crime,” the title song, and the achingly beautiful duet ballad “Almost Paradise” with his co-star Brianna Pember. The stage isn’t quite big enough for Kevin Bacon-level acrobatic dancing, but Garcia-Flores does a fine job all the same.
Pember, a SVCT veteran, has a lovely voice and brings the necessary rebellious spirit to the role of the preacher’s daughter chafing under her father’s rigid rules.
The vocal strength continues to Ariel’s friends Rusty (Mia Veltri), Urleen (Emily Pember) and Wendy Jo (Rebecca Reynolds), who join Brianna Pember for “Holding Out for a Hero” and do sweet harmonies on “Somebody’s Eyes.”
And Ariel joins her mother, Vi (Paetra Rottman) and Ren’s mother, Ethel (Melodie Knappe) on the haunting “Learning to be Silent,” which shows deeper issues running through the families in Bomont.
As sometimes happens when teenagers portray characters twice their age, the grownups are trickier to capture effectively, but again, vocal strength makes up for any shortfall in full embodiment of the bad-guy adults in Bomont. Jacob Goller, last seen as a goofball delivery boy in “The 1940s Radio Hour,” goes a different direction here as Ariel’s preacher father, who is tormented by an earlier tragedy, delivers vocally on “Heaven Help Me.” And Ren’s yokel friend Willard is played with aplomb by Ben Snook.
All around, the cast is vocally exuberant and makes up in infectious joy whatever it occasionally lacks in dance precision. Music director Kirk Berkland leads a five-piece band in front of the stage that sometimes threatens to overpower the singers.
‘Footloose, the Musical.’ South Valley Civic Theatre. Through March 17, 2017 at the Morgan Hill Community Playhouse. www.SVCT.org.