Footloose the Musical
11th April 2018
The Pavilion Theatre, Weymouth
Type of Production
Author: Sylvia Coates
With its cast of talented and well-trained youngsters, ‘Footloose’ was fizzing from the dynamic opening number to the high-octane finale. Although the script itself is lacking in substance, WOW were buzzing with energy and enthusiasm.
It’s difficult to weave anything from thin air, but with the skill we have come to expect of WOW there were some strong characterisations: Vi Moore (Georgina Mason) portrays the stifled clergyman’s wife perfectly; Reverend Moore (Harry Lake) is hiding from himself, which makes finding his character a real challenge, so full credit for achieving this; the final scene between Vi and Reverend Moore touches the heart, as they come to terms with love and loss in a mature performance; Ren (Luke Southorn) avoids swagger and conceit to find just the right amount of youthful vigour in playing the bumptious but likeable city boy in the country; Ethel (Paris Higson) is a controlled and pragmatic mother; Ariel (Molly Thorne) flits delightfully through Bomont, and as the boys fall under her spell she causes mischief and mayhem in her quest to be free; thuggish yokel Willard (Samuel Bates) transforms convincingly into an affable suitor and even a dancer; bully Chuck Cranston (Alex Rogan) is horribly believable; Rusty (Maggie Ayles) is simply sparkling, bubbly and irrepressible. Wow’s strong ensemble (too many to mention) made the most of every moment to create and maintain the characters who add depth and context to the action.
Despite this being a show about the misery of not dancing, there were hugely entertaining episodes of the impressive choreography which is a feature of WOW productions, as the dancers interpret the mood of the music and express the sentiment exactly. It is difficult to select from so many great numbers, but some highlights include: the Teen Ensemble in The Girl Gets Around; Renimpressing at the school lockers with his floor-work; the girls holding out for a hero at the burger bar; the sinister, menacing neighbourhood watchers; Cowboy Bob (Harrison Burley) and his gang were rocking out; fun with the boys at the junkyard; the demanding gym lesson; everyone clearly loved dancing the country scenes and, of course, the spectacular finale, which made us all want to get up and dance.
The style of music in this show is demanding but every song was delivered with passion. The young church choir with clear, angelic voices, set a high standard to begin the show, and WOW continued to impress with their delivery of eighties pop songs, everyone singing to the max and totally committed to the music. Ariel’s sweet voice belied her rebellious image and the duet with Ren at the railway bridge was lovely. The trio of Vi, Ariel and Ethel gave the evening’s most emotional performance with their song about learning to be silent, while the most joyous and powerful was Rusty’s visceral performance of Let’s Hear it for the Boy.
This was an all-out enjoyable evening, with an ambitious and striking set, stunning lighting for the bridge scene, perfect costumes and make-up and music and dancing to be especially proud of. Even the smallest of touches (rolling that bottle off-stage, recovering the timing on a song) were done so well that the action was seamless. It seems there is no limit to WOW’s talent – well done, WOW!