From a certain viewpoint, Footloose: The Musical is a foolproof show. I don't think there's anybody going to see this musical version of the 1984 film with anything even remotely resembling "expectations." I mean, short of somebody actually miscarrying onstage, it couldn't be any worse than you think it's going to be. So if, by chance, something like entertainment actually happens ... it's all gravy.
Which may be why, against all reason, I found myself enjoying much of the Pittsburgh Musical Theatre production. True, I'd never seen the movie, so the first 20 minutes or so was little Teddy Hoover trying to wrap his brain around a plot concerning a small Midwest town where the children aren't allowed to dance. Who knew? But once I got that baggage stowed in the overhead compartment, I found a lot of gravy.
Which, chiefly, is the performances by this young, energetic and very enthusiastic cast. Considering how forgettable the music is, that they could get through it without having the lyrics written on their shirtsleeves is a small miracle. But director/choreographer Colleen Petrucci does an excellent job moving this company from one mindless number to the next cartoon-inspired scene with lots of polish.
Leo Ash Evens is just a whirlwind of talent as the out-of-town rebel here to make the kids dance, dammit, I said dance! He's a delight to watch from beginning to end. It'd be wrong to say that Michael Greer's mugging as the goofy Willard is shameless, because he's doing exactly what the role needs, and he does it brilliantly. As the anal-retentive preacher, Tim Hartman manages to find more nuance than the part deserves, and Emily Lynne Miller sings with a sweet strong voice as his daughter.
I guess Footloose is a lot like having good sex with someone you pick up at last call -- it's a surprise and, with any luck, you won't remember it in the morning.Footloose: The Musical continues through Sun., March 4. Byham Theatre, 121 Sixth St., Downtown. 412-456-6666.