Based on the 1984 hit film starring Kevin Bacon (which was itself loosely based on true events in the town of Elmore City, Oklahoma), we follow the story of Ren McCormick (Joshua Hawkins) and his mother, who move from Chicago to Bomont, a rural backwater town following the abandonment of his father. There, he discovers that rock ’n’ roll music and dancing is banned following the deaths of four young people in a car accident, with a traditional, conservative and strictly religious community spearheaded by the Reverend Shaw Moore (Darren Day). Taking matters into his own hands, Ren befriends the loveable (although rather dim-witted) Willard Hewitt (Jake Quickenden), falls in love with Rev. Moore’s rebellious daughter, Ariel (Lucy Munden), and campaigns for a dance to be allowed for the seniors of the school.
Footloose consists of a small cast of just sixteen performers, with many taking on multiple roles while playing their own instruments at the same time – not an easy feat – and they did so with incredible enthusiasm. There were moments where the cast is divided into Grease-esque girls vs boys, and it was in these moments that the female performers really shone. Lucy Munden (in a rather impressive professional debut) as Ariel and Oonagh Cox as Rusty had particularly powerful voices with an incredible presence on stage for performers so young.
Joshua Hawkins as Ren was fun to watch. Portrayed as a rebel, Hawkins still maintained a sweet and innocent side to the character, bouncing around the stage with tonnes of energy. I loved his chemistry with both Ariel and Willard with a much more cheeky and loveable edge than Kevin Bacon’s version.
Darren Day is superb in the role of Rev. Moore. A well-seasoned and highly experienced performer, Day portrayed a softer character than John Lithgow’s counterpart in the movie, with an honest range of emotions of a man who is conflicted as a protective father and town leader while struggling to deal with his own loss.
Jake Quickenden provides much of the comedic moments, and does so while being charming and sweet, and managing to show off his muscular physique in the performance of Holding Out for a Hero, which the audience highly appreciated! Tom Mussell did a wonderful job in the role of the sinister bully, Chuck, to the point where there were moments of an uncomfortable nature when we see Chuck’s treatment and abuse of Ariel and intimidation of the teenagers in the town.
The set was detailed, but cleverly used, with small sections and props moved with precision by many of the cast and stage crew to create new scenes. There were some issues with sound balance, with the performers occasionally drowned out by the music, and moments where the mics didn’t work at all.
And, of course, there’s the soundtrack. With classic 80s hits including Holding Out for a Hero, Almost Paradise, Let’s Hear It For The Boy and the title track Footloose combined with newer songs that were added for the musical, the songs allowed all of the performers to showcase their talents, with the audience loving every minute!
Whether you’re a fan of the original film or not, Footloose is a fun-filled night of 80’s nostalgia, with a talented and enthusiastic cast that will have you dancing in your seat!