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PHOTO BY DANIELIA STUDIO Dylan Rex (Ren), left, and Payton Sherry (Ariel), right, PHOTO BY DANIELIA STUDIO Dylan Rex (Ren), left, and Payton Sherry (Ariel), right," Footloose," through Aug. 18, Pines Dinner Theatre

THEATER REVIEW 'Footloose' dances up a storm at Pines

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 by DOUGLAS GRAVES Special to The Press in Focus

Toe-tapping music, teenage-angst and love problems in a town where dancing is against the law are a great mix for fun; which is what director Oliver Blatt delivers with "Footloose," through Aug. 18, Pines Dinner Theatre, 17th and Liberty streets, Allentown.

When the preacher's daughter, Ariel Moore (Payton Sherry), is smitten by the new boy in town, Ren McCormack (Dylan Rex), the townspeople start talking and sparks begin to fly.

As Ariel, Sherry is a strong singer and talented dancer.

Rex, in the role of Ren, delivers a great performance. His dancing and high-energy singing ("Dancing is Not a Crime") is beautiful. He is believable as a tough youth who would rather make friends.

Rex and Sherry deliver a heart-tugging love duet, "Almost Paradise."

Brian M. Vigorito shines as Ariel's preacher dad, Reverend Shaw Moore, with his strong portrayal of a man with an iron-bound (or is it hide-bound?) will as he struggles with a rebellious daughter and a gloomy town where the teens just want to dance.

Vigorito showcases his impressive acting and singing voice in several scenes and songs: "I'm Free-Heaven Help Me" and "Can You Find It in Your Heart?"

Gwen Swanson Vigorito (Rev. Moore's wife, Vi) is charmingly sweet as she portrays a kind, understanding mother and wife. Her song, "Can You Find It in Your Heart?" is touching.

Matthew Gurniak (Willard) is a standout performer in this rollicking show. As a country boy with a chip on his shoulder, Gurniak performs this challenging role with zest and an infectious smile. His quick-study dancing steals the honkytonk scene. He also delivers a great singing performance as he leads the backup guys in "Mama Says (You Can't Back Down)."

Amber Kerestes (Ren's mom, Ethel McCormack) is a perfect match for her rebellious and bitter son as she helps develop his character. Her impressive voice stands out in "On Any Sunday." Kerestes also does an outstanding job as choreographer.

The story features two heavies, both of whom are believable and a little scary. Peter Ryan L. (the rejected boyfriend Chuck Cranston) gives a volatile portrayal of abuse and bullying.

Clair M. Freeman (Coach Roger Dunbar) delivers a very believable performance as a martinet coach and sycophantic citizen against dancing.

Brittany Ellis (Rusty), Seana Benz (Urleen) and Meg Stefanowicz (Wendy Jo) are terrific as the girl trio who provide yeoman service as dancers, singers ("Somebody's Eyes," "Holding Out For a Hero") and background players. Their high-spirited dancing, eye rolling and antics capture what being a high school girl means in a small town where it's "us against the grownups."

Grete Miller's Lulu Warnicker and Michael Pizolato's Wes Warnicker are great as less than gracious hosts to Ren and his mother, Ethel, as the two city dwellers have to relocate in the small town.

Miller, playing Betty Blast, gets a tremendous laugh roller skating (at least rolling) through her fast food joint.

Tommy Walters (Travis) and Dylan Ashton (Lyle) are always believable whether backing menacing Chuck Cranston or doing a spirited dance number.

Jaedon Muhl plays the Cop and the role of Harry, but is at his funniest as honkytonk singer Cowboy Bob ("Still Rockin'").

Music director Stacy Bechtel's accompaniment captures the spirit of this teen musical.