|Date||13th July 2019|
|Venue||Queen Elizabeth High School, Carmarthen|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Musical Director||Franco Lopez|
|Producer||Alfie Evans & Franco Lopez|
Author: Nick Brunger
Ren McCormack knew his life was going to change when he moved with his Mom from Chicago to the sleepy backwoods town of Bomont. What he didn’t expect was that his new home had banned two of the things that teenagers loved most – music and rock-and-roll. His struggles to fit in with the conservative town’s moral values imposed by the town’s influential preacher Rev Shaw Moore win him two unlikely allies in the form of schoolyard hillbilly Willard Hewitt and the priest’s wayward daughter Ariel.
iCAN production’s lively performance of Footloose unleashed a talented team of young performers onto the stage of Queen Elizabeth High School in an energetic show that brought the audience on its feet for a prolonged and well deserved standing ovation at the finale.
Two teams shared the major roles, and on the night I saw the show they fielded a confident Finn Radford as Ren, ably partnered by Lola Vyse Jones whose assured performance beautifully captured the angst of a teenager struggling against the strictures of her over-protective father.
Harry John proved himself to be a natural clown as Willard, alternatively bursting with native wit and tongue-tied with embarrassment in the presence of Lily May James’s Rusty.
Taran Jones was a convincingly threatening Chuck, Ariel’s bad-boy boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks, who oozed menace in every scene.
As the Reverend Moore Llew Richards managed to convey a man determined to do what he thought best to protect his daughter and the youngsters in his community but won over by the power of the teenagers’ desire for personal freedom and fun.
The stand-out performance of the evening came from Isabel John as Ariel's mother Vi. Never better then when she sang Can You Find It In Your Heart her mature and considered presentation would have found her a place in any staging of the show by any company.
But this was also a great ensemble show with real passion and energy going into the major routines from the title song, through the classics Lets Hear it For The Boyand the unforgettable Holding Out For A Hero.
Full marks are also deserved by the backstage crew, including Nigel Richards who built the simple but impressive set from scratch.
Carmarthen was holding out for a few heroes of their own when the much-missed Mini-Players suddenly folded earlier in the year and the cast of Footloose saw heir hopes of staging the production fade. Two “white knights” duly stepped into the breech in the form of joint producers Alfie Evans (Director & Choreographer) and Franco Lopez (Musical Director).
The Queen Elizabeth High sixth-formers, already veterans of shows for Mini-Players, Carmarthen Youth Opera and Carmarthen Amateur Operatic Society, shared the youngsters’ dismay and decided to come to the rescue despite also facing the not inconsiderable challenges of simultaneously sitting crucial exams.
Supported by the town’s musical community, family and friends Alfie and Franco rode to the rescue, mounting the show to an incredibly high standard in just four months. Their passion for musical theatre shone through the whole production and everyone involved rose to the occasion to provide a spectacular event in every sense.
Joining the cast on stage for the joyous and exuberant celebration that marked the end of the final performance it was a measure of their achievement that, at the same age as many of the cast, they were virtually indistinguishable from their young stars.