Early that spring, I felt like pretty hot stuff. I was working for Rick Johnson & Company on the Paramount Pictures account. We were one of their regional ad agencies.
I was driving my 1981 Mazda GLC around town with the windows open, playing a new cassette Paramount had sent us. I liked it so much, I wanted everyone to hear it. If I could have put the top down and cranked the stereo, I would have, but they didn’t let us have convertibles then. Honest. Safety reasons, they said.
Anyway, I was blasting out songs no one else in Albuquerque was listening to:
“I've got this feeling
That time's just holding me down
I'll hit the ceiling or else I'll tear up this town
Tonight I gotta cut loose ...”
Yep. Kenny Loggins wailing out the title track for the movie Footloose. They weren’t even playing it on the radio stations yet. I felt really cool.
Why? Well, for starters, the music was great. It’s still one of the best soundtracks ever, in my opinion.
“Let's hear it for the boy
Oh, let's give the boy a hand.”
The movie was huge, making a star of Kevin Bacon and generating a frenzy for the music. The album was number 1 for ten weeks and three of its songs hit the Billboard Top Ten, two climbing to number 1.
Years later, I heard they were adapting Footloose into a stage musical. I was worried. One criteria for a musical is that the characters have to sing songs that move the plot forward. The songs I loved so much were all comments on the action, not action themselves. If they changed those songs, it wouldn’t be Footloose anymore.
Well, the musical came and went in New York and I never got to see how well they adapted it. I even missed it when it came through Popejoy a few years later.
Fast forward to February 2009.
At Popejoy, we were discussing a new company that would be touring the following season. We didn’t know the company, but I saw that they had a different production going to the Macey Center in Socorro. I volunteered to check it out so we’d know the caliber of the company. The show I was going to see? Footloose.
What’s more, the production was directed by Gary John LaRosa, who had directed several shows for Musical Theatre Southwest, including Bye Bye Birdie. Gary cast me as Mr. McAfee in that production, which is how I got to know him. I sent him an email.
Turns out he had spent quite a bit of time working with Dean Pitchford, screenwriter for the movie, on honing the script after its New York run. The show, he said, was tighter and stronger. While I can’t compare it to the Broadway show, the story was actually tighter than it was in the movie. And it was still a lot of fun.
Now MTS is producing Footloose. It’s going into its last weekend. I can’t see it and I’m kicking myself if for no other reason than that I will miss seeing Jonathan Ragsdale play Ren McCormack. He's got to be awesome. I hope you check it out and report back.
“Lose your blues, everybody cut footloose!”
Terry S. Davis