|Date||30th August 2019|
|Society||Lisnagarvey Operatic & Dramatic Society|
|Venue||Island Hall, Lisburn|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Musical Director||Geoffrey Cherry|
Author: Sheelagh Hobart
Footloose – a 1984 film musical – was adapted for the stage in 1998 with lyrics by Dean Pitchford and music by Tom Snow (with further contributions from Kenny Loggins, Sammy Hagar, Jim Steinman & Eric Carmen). Revivals and tours have taken place in the US, UK and Australia since then but this production was a premier for me!
The Set was a simple scaffolding walkway with the 5 piece band in a single row underneath. The walkway was accessed by offstage steps on either side and props were carried on and off by stage team and cast members. A few costumes were sourced from Utopia and MJA Costume Shed but most of the large ensemble’s costumes were their own and most were suitable for the show. Sound was very good and Lighting, while not spectacular, was adequate.
James Marsden played Ren McCormick, the teenager who moves from Chicago with his mother to the small town of Baumont, where dancing is forbidden. James was full of energy and demonstrated well Ren’s love of dancing and the reason that he tried to get the law against it reversed. He sang well also and showed (the honest but impulsive nature of his character.) Alice Tate was Ariel, the rebellious teenage daughter of the influential local minister, and confidently showed her wild side but also her caring nature in relation to Ren’s problems. Alice and James shared good onstage rapport. Initially Ariel’s boyfriend was Chuck Cranston (Isaac O’Brien) – disapproved of by her father and labelled “trailer trash” by him. Isaac gave a credible performance as the somewhat abusive ‘bad boy’. Michael Nevin played Willard Hewitt, a slow-witted cowboy figure who attended the same school as the others. Although he began as a hot headed fighter, Michael brought out the comedy in his role as a bit of a nerd. He became a loyal friend to Ren and revealed a remarkably fine tenor voice. Willard was fancied by Rusty who was enthusiastically played by Amy Galashan – friendly, fast talking and a good dancer. Rusty, Wendy-Jo (Ellen Whitten) and Urleen (Sian McCullough) were all good friends of Ariel and all colourful, boy crazy characters who made up an engaging group.
There were 3 adults in this youth production taking the roles of Ariel’s parents, Reverend Moore and his wife Vi (Simon Pyper & Aideen Fox) and Ren’s mother (Ashleigh Gault). All portrayed the stresses and strains of being a parent dealing with teenage children! Other small parts were well sustained and added to the overall success of this show, and the 65 strong ensemble worked extremely hard and were fully focused. I must give a mention to Amelia and Isaac Bell who wowed the audience in their slot as Bailey and (Cowboy) Bob.
MD Geoffrey found a wealth of musical talent among this young cast and gave many their moment to shine. His small band did full justice to the score. Choreographer Rea choose very suitable dance steps so that everyone could master the moves and enjoy them – a difficult task with so many on stage!
Simon directed a tight and pacey show. So many re-join his Garvey summer production every year as well as newcomers that I can see he must make rehearsals fun as well as teaching stagecraft – and producing a show worth watching! Co-ordinator Gillian McQuade is also invaluable, I think!
My thanks to everyone involved, onstage and off, for giving me a great evening’s entertainment
Noda Regional Representative for Ireland