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Footloose (Guildford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Ensemble of Footloose
© Mark Dean
Based on the 1984 hit film, Footloose is a perfect showcase for the Guildford School of Acting's graduating class.

Packed full of youthful energy, fine vocal performances and 80s pop hits, Footloose is an upbeat romp about teenage rebellion that makes a fun night at the theatre.

Taking the lead are Alex Jordan-Mills as Ren, the new kid in town, and Rosie Needham as preacher's daughter Ariel. The pair are strong together and are full of the pent-up teenage sexual frustration that comes out through their dancing. Sam Robinson gives a spot-on comedic performance as Ren's friend Willard, funny without ever over-playing his hand.

Surprise star turns come from Cellen Chugg Jones and Charlotte Knowles as the Reverend Moore and his wife. Chugg Jones turns the character from a one dimension authority figure into a conflicted man, while Knowles' voice is crystal clear and full of loneliness.

Acting as an almost girl band are Jodie Steele, Molly Stewart and Sophie Mercell who give hits such as "Holding Out For A Hero" a feel-good twist through excellent characterisation and raunchy vocals.

Gary Lloyd's choreography is tight and the cast copes very well with some quite tricky sequences. Occasionally slipping into body popping and break dancing, Lloyd updates the dancing to make it more relevant to a modern audience and stops it from looking dated. Similarly, Diego Pitarch's costumes seem fresh and keep the cast youthful.

The stripped-back set is full of clear lines and frequently moved, allowing the ensemble to fully make use of the space. At times their energy feels a little constrained by the stage's space limitation and keeping a few actors of stage would really give the rest space to breathe.

Given that these students are fresh out of drama school, Footloose is a very entertaining show and has the audience on their feet, dancing to the songs they know so well.

- Roz Carter


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