Director: Racky Plews
Stage Adapation: Dean Pritchard and Walter Bobbie
Choreographer: Matthew Cole
Musical Director: David Keech
A Hollywood hit and cultural sensation, Footloose grossed US$80 million, knocked Michael Jackson’s albumThriller off of the number one spot, and collected Oscar and Golden Globe nominations in the process. Now Dean Pritchard and Walter Bobbie’s extravaganza Footloose: The Musical returns with a spring in its step.
Directed by Racky Plews, this brand new production tells the tale of Chicago boy Ren, performed by the gifted Luke Baker, and his mother (Nicky Swift) who start afresh in the sleepy town of Bomont. In his search of entertainment, the teen discovers the overbearing Rev. Shaw Moore (Nigel Lister) has banned dancing in an attempt to protect the young people from the same fate as his son. A fight for the freedom to dance ensues as Ren and the rebellious Bomont teens break the rules of the town and test the boundaries of their parents.
Complete with double denim, crimped hair and revamped ’80s hits including Holding Out for a Hero andLet’s Hear It for the Boy, the production bursts with stellar performances; Baker walks the tightrope between the passionate heart-throb and the frustrated new boy, all while giving an energetic performance which is a joy to watch. Baker certainly has a bright future ahead of him, and as he dances, sings, raps, skates, flips and jumps across the stage his enthusiasm is infectious.
Opposite him as the fiery Ariel ‘who likes trouble’ Hannah Price plays the vivacious young woman with aplomb, and the chemistry between the two teens sizzles on stage. Audience favourite and scene-stealing Gareth Gates must also be applauded as his comic physicality and likeability as Willard is nothing less than superb.
The show is certainly noteworthy in that the actors are also the musicians; the multi-talented performers complete dance routines and belt out songs, all while playing the keys, guitar or cello. Although executed with precision, the presence of the musical instruments resulted in a constant flurry of movement on stage, which is often distracting. With so many bodies and instruments in one space, the stage feels cramped and overcrowded, thus moments of intimacy – and the chance to delve deeper into characters such as Rev. Shaw and his wife Viv – are unfortunately lost.
Boasting a plethora of toe-tapping tunes, Footloose: The Musical is shamelessly enjoyable and is the perfect excuse for theatre-goers to “kick off your Sunday shoes” and “cut loose.”
Runs until 6 August 2016 | Image: David Ellis