First of all, I have to say that I LOVE LOVE LOVE Marlane Barnes. She was fabulous in "An Ideal Husband." And she was great in "Footprints" and "The Edge of Peace" during the New Works Festival. She is a powerhouse actress, which you wouldn't think at first because of her size. But she really is this little bundle of energy on stage.
I loved the little things that made "Footprints" different, especially when it came to the set. The piece really stuck to its subject matter and concept of eco-theatre and sustainable theatre by not printing programs. Instead, the program was projected onto the wall above the stairs outside of the Payne lobby. The set design was also unique, eco-friendly and a collaborative effort. With the help of the Austin EcoSchool, the set designers transformed the Payne lobby using plastic bags, newspapers and Styrofoam peanuts to portray trees in a forest.
I liked the actors' costumes as well. If I remember correctly, everyone was wearing black and most of the costuming was seen in the headpieces/headdress of each actor. I think this choice was made simply because this was a staged reading of "Footprints," but I liked having something that visually separated the elements from Sophie. I also enjoyed the positioning of the actors in chairs. I think the team really used the space to their advantage. The performance was in a lobby after all.
Even though this "musical eco-tale" is geared toward children, I think the authors/writers did a fantastic job of not dumbing it down. Even the topics discussed during song were presented in factual manner, and were meant to be taken seriously.
Also, I have to mention that the live music was fabulous! But it was also a little distracting. I wanted to see who was playing and what they were playing. I experienced something similar during "On these four matters we cannot agree..." I dunno, maybe there's something about live performance and instrumentation that fascinates me.
I loved the "Footprints" reprise that appeared several times during the show. ("Please leave only footprints/Nature will take care of the rest.") I have to admit that I was a little teary eyed toward the end. And the play really made me think. Honestly, I walked out of there feeling like a horrible human being. It made me think of every cigarette butt I've thrown on the ground, my long showers, and the fact that I don't recycle on a regular basis. I came straight home after the performance and pulled all the [clean] paper I could find out of the trash. Yes, I'm a little silly. Let me.
Last, but not least I want to commend Bryan and Julia on their performances. I really enjoyed that moment when Julia "broke it down" and let it all out. Yes, I heard that. GREAT JOB!