Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Footloose - Manchester & Tour

Footloose by Dean Pitchford
Director/Choreographer: Karen Bruce
Reviewer: Lisa Whiteside

Footloose the Musical proved to be a thoroughly show stopping performance this Monday 17th November. Footloose is based upon the story of city boy Ren, who moves to the rural backwaters of America where dancing is banned. For this musical however, the dancing is definitely not banned and this is evident by the many magnificent dance sequences performed.

Certain ensemble dance scenes which stood out in my mind, range from the very camp routine of ‘I need a hero’, a particularly physical dance workout in the gym to of course the classic Footloose medley which left everyone on their feet clapping along with a smile on their face.

The set ranged from scenes at the bridge, internal house scenes and my particular favourite the local burger bar. I was somewhat pleasantly surprised with the set overall, and their very effective use of props be that the use of the gym balls within a dance piece or the oversized tyres which were used to leap, jump, or indeed throw.

The large cast comprised of six main characters who were then supported by other smaller characters and a large ensemble of dancers, singers and all round entertainers. It cannot be disputed this was definitely a strong cast, particularly in terms of their ability as dancers and singers. My main concern or should I say niggle was with certain accents presented by some of the cast, particularly the main character of Ren McCormack who seemed to travel through every state of America during the performance. This would be my main gripe really; although on hindsight another element of distraction was definitely certain lighting states which seemed to leave main characters in the midst of a scene in the shadows, whether or not this was a technical or indeed a performer issue I do not know.

Despite the dodgy accent of the main character Ren, it cannot be denied that both he and his leading lady Ariel did a fantastic job in leading the plot with their spectacular songs and many routines that were delivered with confidence and panache. These two characters were further supported by the very comical duo of Rusty and Willard, who definitely proved to be the light entertainment of the show. Despite the very geeky, silly characters that they were portraying it was evident that they were both incredibly strong all round performers who worked well to provide lots of chuckles from the audience.

The musical score was very entertaining and consisted of an amalgamation of well known and also alternative songs all of which were guaranteed to get your toes tapping and hands clapping throughout, particularly by the end of the performance with their show-stopping medley.

Overall this first night show presented itself as a very entertaining performance that would be suitable for a varied audience leaving you humming many of the tunes for days to come. A very enjoyable night out overall!
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