Now I gotta cut loose, footloose, Kick off your Sunday shoes
Footloose is a name most people would recognize even if they haven’t seen the classic film of 1984 with Kevin Bacon, or its remake in 2011 by Paramount. A true child of the 80’s Footloose is a feel-good teenage cheese drama following the story of Ren McCormack who moves from the vibrant city Chicago to a rural isolated town Bomont in Georgia. Here he finds dancing has been banned by the Reverend Shaw as a result of the fatal car accident that claimed four young lives (who were returning from dancing outside of town). Being a typical teenage drama Ren rebels and encourages the students to rise against Shaw and prove that dancing isn’t harmful and is instead can unite the community. With such a simple plot it is difficult for Footloose to be considered remarkable but what it lacks in originality it makes up with fun, feel-good plot resolutions and fantastic music and dancing.
Sell A Door Theatre Company brings Footloose, the musical adaption, and it does not let the cult classic film down. Adapted to the stage by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, Dean Pitchford was the writer of the original film as well, it is based on a true story in Elmore City, Oklahoma where they drew inspiration from the events that happened there and the fight by the students to hold a prom and be able to dance.
Luke Baker excelled as Ren McCormack with a smooth strong voice commanded the stage whilst creating a wonderful on stage relationship with the incredible Hannah Price as Ariel. However a special mention must be said for Joanna Sawyer, Rusty, who had the most fantastic voice absolutely smashing the cover of Holding Out for A Hero. The famous Gareth Gates stormed onto stage to rapturous applause as the slightly simple Willard. It felt the characterisation of Willard was a bit strong and verging on insensitive but instead was meant to portray a shy boy who grows in confidence although is still a little ‘country’ at the end. He was cheered during the performance of Holding Out for A Hero where the choreography indulged in a little audience gratification with a strip sequence reminiscent of Magic Mike hit the stage.
However, by far, one of the most impressive points of this production was all the cast also reprised the roles of musicians and formed the band. All incredibly talented musicians the choreography and direction was fascinating and outstanding to incorporate their transitions from actors to musicians so smoothly. Lauren Storer was especially noticeably talented with the clarinet and flute providing many backing tracks for the more prominent characters. Maureen Nolan as Vi Moore and Nigel Lister as Rev Shaw Moore were both clearly good singers but in act 1 their performances came across a little more rusty, perhaps due to their more sporadic appearances on stage, however by Act 2 their voices were far stronger and more of a presence.
An incredible set proved very versatile providing many scene changes and new locations moved by ease by the cast. The lighting was perfect for the musical and helped really create the moods and in the final performance of Footloose captured the prom feel perfectly. The performance of Holding Out for A Hero was the most solid with cast, set and lighting combining to create a truly stunning piece of work raising the bar for the rest of the show.
The production was polished, sensational and engaging to watch. The cast is extremely talented, with stunning performances from the young performers in particular. A real feel-good musical Footloose the Musical is not one to miss and is worth catching somewhere on its tour. We all deserve to cut loose every so often.