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Matt Willis Steps from Flashdance to Footloose

Matt Willis, the former Busted star who has been fronting the West End production of Flashdance alongside Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, will play Chuck in the upcoming national tour of Footloose when the musical embarks on its fifth national tour it was announced today (16 December 2010).

The new tour, which comes on the back of two West End seasons and four national touring productions, will commence at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle on 21 January 2011.

The cast will also include Brookside's Steve Pinder as Reverend Shaw Moore and Max Milner as Ren, the role which launched the careers of Kevin Bacon and Derek Hough.

Footloose centres on city boy Ren who moves with his mother to a small town in middle America where rock music and dancing are outlawed for religious reasons. Sparks fly when Ren and the minister's teenaged daughter Ariel rebel.

The title track of the 1984 film, which also starred Lori Singer and Sarah Jessica Parker, became a multi-platinum selling record. Several of Kenny Loggins and Bonnie Tyler's songs from the movie - including "Let's Hear It for the Boy", "Almost Paradise" and "Holding Out for a Hero" - are used in the stage musical.

The full cast were today announced as Carys Gray, Lorna Want, Jodie Jacobs, Keisha Amponsa Banson, Tanya Robb, Daniel Smith, Adam C Booth, Giovanni Spano, Michael Palmer, Ben Harris, Simon Campbell, Kirk Barker, Simon Hardwick, Natalie Andreou, Sarah Kitson, Lindsey Tierney, Katy Hards, Nikki Mullins and Rory Locke.

Leaving Newcastle on 29 January 2011 the tour continues to Southampton, Milton Keynes, Edinburgh, Plymouth, Liverpool, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Manchester, Aylesbury, Stoke, Rhyl, Glasgow, Belfast, Nottingham, Norwich, Woking, Cardiff, Bristol, Wolverhampton before finishing in Leeds on 2 July 2011.

Matt Willis is currently engaged on the tour until 26 March 2011, the end of the productions run at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen. It is still to be announced who will play the role of Chuck from Manchester for the remainder of the train. Willis is currently appearing in another screen-to-stage show, Flashdance The Musical which will close at the on 15 January 2011 at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Following extensive regional touring, it opened in the West End on 14 October 2010 (previews from 27 September) and had initially been booking until 26 February 2011.

Footloose - which has a book by Walter Bobbie and Dean Pitchford, who wrote the original screenplay - had its Broadway premiere in October 1998, running for nearly two years. The musical received its UK premiere in February 2004, launching its first tour from Plymouth.

After a second UK tour, the musical transferred in April 2006 to the West End’s Novello Theatre where it had a successful seven-month run but was forced to vacate to make way for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s annual West End residency. Producers tried to find an alternative West End venue at the time but none were available. The show the show later played a 15-week stint at the West End's Playhouse Theatre, closing on 1 December 2007.


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