The film version of Footloose is a slice of eighties cheese, complete with montage dance scenes and a crowd pleasing narrative played out to a pumping soft-rock soundtrack. This stage adaptation features well known hits from the film, blended with new material.
Rocker, Ren (the youthful and energetic Tommy Sherlock) arrives in small town Middle America to start a new life with his mother. The problem is rock music has been banned here due to an accident that happened in the past. He hooks up with minister’s daughter Ariel (sexy and strong voiced Miria Parvin), ever-determined to make a change.
Sounds corny? It is, but the original piece was never intended to be profound. There are also several elements which lift this show out of the realm of juke-box hell.
Firstly, Karen Bruce’s direction and choreography has pace and vitality. The dancing here is exhausting to watch, but each member of the huge cast deliver and look as if they love ‘cutting loose.’ Some of the dance scenes recall the heady dance off at the prom in the film, Grease. Of the cast, Sherlock is the best Ren I have seen on tour as he dances as well as he sings. Parvin is also delightful as the wayward love interest.
Lyn Paul is a wonderful singer although she doesn’t even try to be American. Julian Agnew plays her earnest husband and does well with an underwritten role. Giovanni Spano’s Willard plays for laughs and wins over the audience, constantly, while Gemma O' Duffy’s vibrant “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” is worth paying for on its own. Only Johnny Shentall’s Chuck fails to deliver as he merely shuffles across the stage, whilst the others fly.
The ensemble all perform with so much verve, you’ll have a Friday night feeling any day of the week. Of the songs, “Somebody’s Eyes” is excellent but “Holding Out For A Hero” with its hen night/camp appeal has the audience whooping with delight. “I’m Free” also delights the crowd as the dancing is high octane and full of life. The embarrassing “Mama Says” should be axed though, as it has always been weak.
Quibbles aside, don your Stetson, kick off your Sunday shoes, join in and watch in awe as this Footloose cast hits the ceiling.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at the Lowry, Salford)