Footloose The Musical

Date 22nd February 2023
Society The Burton Musical Theatre Company
Venue de Ferres Academy, Burton
Type of Production Musical
Director Karen Hambleton
Musical Director David Blackwell
Choreographer Dannie Berriman & Helena Stone
Written By Dean Pitchford, Walter Bobbie, Tom Snow

Report

Author: Alan Bruce

FOOTLOOSE - The Musical

BURTON MUSICAL THEATRE COMPANY

Stage adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie; Music by Tom Snow, Lyrics by Dean Pitchford. Footloose is the story of Ren McCormack - Zachary Lewis, a teenager from Chicago. He and his mother move to the small town of Bomont, after his father abandons them. Upon arriving, Ren finds himself at odds with most of the town, including the imposing Reverend Shaw Moore.

The Reverend has convinced the town to outlaw dancing, which Ren finds unbelievable. With the help of Ariel, the Reverend’s daughter, and country hick Willard, who becomes his best friend, Ren convinces the Reverend to let the teenagers dance, and in the process helps the town heal from a tragedy that affected them all.  

The events the story is based on, happened in Elmore City, Oklahoma, where dancing had been banned since 1898 because, as in the film, it was believed to lead to drinking and sexual promiscuity. In 1980, the town's high school juniors requested permission to hold their first-ever prom, and the ban was lifted.

Bomont is a powder keg of raging teenage hormones, desperate to blow off steam with nowhere to do so. Studious rebel Ariel - Bethan Glover; brilliantly led the show, testing her father, Reverend Moore - Lee Smith at every opportunity. Her infatuation with the local badass drop out Chuck Cranston, continually causes tension at home. Her sassy mom Vi - Vix Quigley, senses the danger signs, which somewhat echo her own past.

Ariel’s best friends, Rusty - Jessica Roome; Urleen - Helena Stone and Wendy-Jo - Dannie Berriman; all of whom sing and dance up an absolute storm throughout, especially the outstanding vocals on Let’s hear it for the Boy featuring Rusty. These three link a lot of the action and songs, very well cast, playing particular well off Ariel and Willard.

Willard - Brad Hambleton, excellent portrayal as the country hick, delightfully bashful around Rusty, full of home-grown Mama wisdom. Mama Says (you Can’t Back Down) Fabulous.

Oly Wright - Chuck Cranston, added a real threatening element, and almost unintentional humour in his dealings with Ren. We loved The Girl Gets Around.

The grippingly tense meeting of Reverend Moore with Ren after the rigged council dance vote was beautifully staged, deftly emotional, and tenderly handled you could hear a pin drop. Despite their differences the mutual shared angst over loses of loved ones was palpable.  

All of the cast delighted in this show, the sheer joy of performance was clearly evident, sombre when required, all thoroughly engaged. The dance numbers were big and vibrant, Helena Stone and Dannie Berriman - spot on choreography, totally on the ball.

Director Karen Hambleton worked her charges extremely hard; showed a great understanding of nuanced light and shade and how to translate that to the audience; all must be congratulated for bringing this spectacular production to the stage. Lighting, costumes, scenery, props all enriched the experience.

Musical Director David Blackwell, the vocal harmonies utterly superlative. Working with a smaller than usual ensemble, the performances from all excelled. The crystal clear tonal clarity of their playing shone through, hats off to the incredibly impressive sound technician’s skill.

The opportunity to see so many talented performers is truly a privilege, Burton is definitely very well blessed. Burton Musical Theatre Company, yet again hit the ground running with their absolutely stunning version of Footloose. Almost Paradise indeed.