Footloose-The Musical

Date 9th May 2024
Society CATS Youth Theatre
Venue Peace Community Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Louise Cohen
Musical Director Louise Cohen
Choreographer Emily Cohen
Producer Paul Cohen
Written By Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie

Report

Author: Liz Hume-Dawson

Footloose - can you believe the film came out some forty years ago in 1984? Scary! And the stage musical in 1998. The film featuring Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow, Lori Singer and Sarah Jessica Parker. This musical is a favourite with theatre groups about a boy and his mother moving to a small town which is under the so-called guidance of the Reverend Shaw Moore who has his own demons to deal with. The musical has songs that we know were sung by Bonnie Tyler, Deniece Willaims Kenny Loggins and Shalamar.

Walking into the auditorium we are met with a bare stage and a projection on the back wall of Footloose the Musical in neon colours with a horizontal bank of neon lights each side of the stage.  

The bare stage is then set to just tell the story in a minimalist style to give a flavour to each scene, furniture moved by stage crew and cast. Stairs into the auditorium Stage Right are also used. The simplicity of the stained glass window projected onto the back wall and casting a shadow on the stage was very effective Edward Gordon Craig would be proud. Various minimal pieces of set were brought on so we knew just where we were. The diner in red and white, a car, the Moore homestead complete with Frigidaire, Kitchen table and chairs and sink unit. Lockers for the school scene and an impressive iron girder complete with graffiti. Set Design Louise Cohen, Alan Dodd and Simon White. Set Construction Simon White, Drew Hogben, Dave Matthew, Alan Dodd and Carl Reevell. Set Artists were Simon White and Drew Hogben. Stage Manager Elliot Hogben. Assistant was Oliver Gaskell.

The costumes looked just right and all in keeping with the era. Wardrobe by Cats Youth Theatre and Janet Hardman. The musical numbers were great as Louise Cohen as Musical Director must have relished working with the cast and had great fun. Guest conductor David Wilson and the live band bringing the challenging score to life with energy effortlessly.

Emily Cohen as Choreographer again pulls it out of the bag. Never mind having to move nearly 50 people around a stage and not bump into each other she makes them work hard with some very energetic dance numbers again and again. I was exhausted watching them, they on the other hand made it look simple and simple it was not. Opening with energy. Great work.

Louise Cohen directs and manoeuvres the large cast with ease, interaction between characters were good and those who are playing older characters fitted the parts. The ensemble also worked well interacting and watching the scenes unfold.

The Cast were Betty Blast played by Evie Procter, Eleanor Parker by Holly Reevell. Principal Harriet Clark by Nicole Zielinkski. Coach Dunbar by Amelia Fallon. Travis by Alfie Browne.

Jake Little played Garvin and Cop, Alfie Browne played Travis and Lewis Cunliffe played Lyle all with great energy and support to the action. The Bobettes were Lois Done, Kate Evans, Harriet Heyes and Lily Moro. Tom Clancy who played Bickle and Cowboy Bob. Great work.

Playing some of the older characters were Ruby Magill taking on the role of Ren’s supportive mother Ethel McCormack. The complicated Reverend Shaw Moore was played by Nathan Dodds who rules the town from his pulpit. His long-suffering wife was Vi Moore played by Iona Budis - loved Can You Find it in Your Heart. Good emotion throughout the song. Heartfelt..

Bad boy Chuck Cranston was played by the capable Ethan Sheppard who gave us a character to fear. Lauren Quigley played Rusty, Eve Bolton played Urleen and Ava Deveney gave us Wendy Jo - all friends with different characteristics. Working well together and bringing the fun, energy and sass to the stage.

What can I say Harry Fenwick’s hilarious performance as Willard Hewitt complete with straw hat. You had me as soon as you opened your mouth. And Mama Says was so well done. Characterisation so believable with an innocence but feisty at times. Great foil for Ren. Excellent

Last but not least are the two protagonists. Ariel Moore the preacher’s daughter played by Amy Costello again this high energy show demands a lot and Amy delivered in bucket loads - I really enjoyed Holding Out For A Hero with Ava, Eve and Lauren amongst other numbers. The girls’ friendship was natural and Ariel’s complicated life with her parents evident and played out well. The slow burn romance with Ren played by Ethan Browne. Wow! The casting of these two was perfect.  Ethan was able to move between high energy and looking like little boy lost regarding his father and him not understanding why the town just put up with the status quo.  A strong mature performance and I loved I Cannot Stand Still. Fabulous.

Well! I would expect nothing less from CATS Youth Theatre to pull off this high energy show and make it look like a stroll in the park. It’s great to see so many of the members coming up through the ranks and taking on bigger roles. With such a large cast its heartwarming to see so many wanting to be involved in this hobby we love.

Thank you so much for the invite and hospitality from my guest David Wall and I.

 

Liz Hume-Dawson

District 5 Rep