The Mimes and Mummers Return to the Stage with “Footloose”

The Mimes and Mummers staged their first in-person show in Collins Auditorium on Oct. 7. (Courtesy of Nick DeSilva for the Fordham Ram)

The Mimes and Mummers staged their first in-person show in Collins Auditorium on Oct. 7. (Courtesy of Nick DeSilva for the Fordham Ram)

On Thursday, Oct. 7, the curtains of Collins Auditorium opened on Fordham’s Mimes and Mummers for the first time since Feb. 2020. They danced, sang and rocked amazing ’80s hair as they transported the audience to the iconic small town in “Footloose”: Bomont. 

For many members of the packed audience, this was their first time at an in-person theatre performance since the start of the pandemic, and you could feel the excitement in the room. The audience was totally engrossed in the play, laughing, crying and even holding their breath at some points. This show really reminded us of the power theatre can have to bring us together and bring out our deepest emotions. 

The show, which was originally created by Dean Pitchford, Walter Bobbie and Tom Snow, was directed by Eric Gelb, a New York-based musical theatre director, producer and educator. The music was directed by Alex Parrish, a music director, composer, voice teacher and performer. 

In the back of the playbill for the production, Gelb wrote an important note about the social implications of performing “Footloose” in 2021. First, he addressed the stereotypical gender roles of the ’80s. He grappled with whether “Footloose” is endorsing patriarchal ideals or satirizing them, and he concluded that we must use a critical lens when analyzing this show. 

Gelb also addressed the fact that he made a unique choice by casting the only Black actor, Sam Scriven, FCRH ’25, in the lead role: “Having a performer who is Black play Ren was not a ‘box I was looking to check.’ I always hope to cast my shows diversely, but the fact is that Sam, who plays Ren, was the best suited auditionee.” This casting decision greatly expanded the message of the show. In the original “Footloose,” Ren is simply a bad boy who doesn’t fit in, but in the Mimes and Mummers version, there is a deeper story about racism and ostracism. Gelb adds: “The optics of the show change when an almost all-white company surrounds a performer who is Black, and sings to him: ‘careful what you do / someone’s on to you / careful what you do / somebody’s eyes are watching / somebody’s eyes are seeing you come and go.’” 

And Gelb was right. Scriven was best suited to the role. He had an incredible presence on the stage and had great chemistry with the rest of the cast. His dance numbers were where he really stood out; he flawlessly performed complex footwork and even did a couple flips. 

Scriven’s co-star, Amy Cartolano, FCRH ’24, (as Ariel Moore) also performed exceptionally well. Her vocal performance was very powerful and her dynamic with her three female friends (played by Kyra Linekin, FCRH ’24,  Elena Smith, FCRH ’23 and Shannon Jenson, FCRH ’24) felt incredibly authentic.  

Act One of the production introduced us to the cast and the town of Bomont with a set of great songs and dances. The two numbers that stood out the most were “Learning to be Silent” and “Holding Out For a Hero.” “Learning to be Silent” featured Cartolano, Clare O’Connell, FCRH ’25, (as Vi Moore) and Sarah Shanahan, FCRH ’24, (as Ethel McCormack). The three women stood on stage under simple spotlights. With minimal choreography and background music, you could really focus on their beautiful voices, making this number especially powerful and emotional. 

“Holding Out For a Hero” was also a great number. All of the performers had incredibly strong vocals, the choreography was fun and the cast made great use of the stage and set (a diner setting). 

The cast really hit their stride in Act Two. Every single number was memorable, the set transitions were smooth and the cast moved cohesively throughout the show. The second number in Act Two, “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,” definitely stood out. Linekin (as Rusty) sang most of the number as a solo, with backup vocals from the rest of the cast. Her voice was truly incredible and she flawlessly hit some ridiculously high notes. She sang to Jackson Saunders, FCRH ’25, (as Willard Hewitt) and the duo performed a lively line-dance inspired number. The two characters, who served as great comedic relief throughout the production, performed exceptionally well together and their chemistry on stage was tangible. 

As the show came to a close, Miguel Sutedjo, FCRH ’23, (as Reverend Shaw Moore) delivered Reverend Moore’s iconic and heart wrenching speech about loss and grief. Sniffles could be heard throughout the auditorium. 

The cast closed out the show with their rendition of “Footloose.” The choreography, by Erin Stehler, FCRH ’22, was fantastic and all of the actors performed it seamlessly. 

As the cast performed their “Megamix,” a sample of each number, they were met with a boisterous standing ovation from the audience. The Mimes and Mummers put on a great production and it was so wonderful to see so many people enjoying in-person theatre again. Stay tuned, because the Mimes and Mummers will be staging Neil Simon’s “Rumors” this winter.