Footloose The Musical

Date 23rd February 2017
Society Stage One Youth Theatre Group
Venue Ferneham Hall, Fareham
Type of Production Musical
Director Jacqui Ivemy
Musical Director Dennis Brombley
Choreographer Matt Newman

Report

Author: Mark Donalds

Footloose, The Musical, based on the 1984 film of the same name, is a high energy song and dance show that is not over-burdened with plot, but has plenty of smaller principal roles, giving opportunities for lots of cast members to shine.

Ren McCormack and his mother Ethel have recently moved to sleepy Bomont from Chicago and are dismayed to find that all avenues of entertainment, especially dancing, have been blocked by the Reverend Shaw Moore and the town council, following a tragic accident. Ren is not one to stand still and so begins his struggle to pull the town out of its mourning.

Adam Brombley, as Ren, exuded confidence and charm and you could easily understand why the Reverend and the council eventually gave in to his pleas. His strong singing voice and overall stage presence (and roller-skating skills) were well matched by Sian Samways as Ariel, the rebellious daughter of the Reverend. She gave a very gutsy performance as the youngster troubled by her brother’s death, and her scene with Ren at the derelict warehouse where they both revealed their past tragedies was beautifully touching. Ren and Ariel’s duet in Act Two, “Almost Paradise” was mesmerising, as they demonstrated how beautifully they could blend their voices.

Ethan Emery gave a great performance as the up-tight Reverend Moore and very effectively conveyed the age difference between himself and his daughter – something that is hard to do when you are all of similar ages in real life. His struggle not to let out the anguish he felt at the death of his son was really convincing. He also demonstrated a strong and melodic singing voice in his solos.

Molly Berry as Rusty, Ariel’s best friend, also gave a stand-out performance, not least in the number “Somebody’s Eyes” which, to my mind, was the best in the show with imaginative choreography and lighting really enhancing the music and singing - a real showstopper.  Milo Baker as Willard Hewitt – was totally convincing as never the sharpest knife in the box, but brave and always willing to fight for his friends and stand up to bullies like Chuck Cranston (a nice, evil, gloating performance by Luke Marshall).

It seems unfair to single out some of the principals when the ENTIRE cast was SO good. Everyone was totally engaged and looking like they were enjoying every minute of the show, particularly so during the big dance numbers. Never, in amateur theatre, have I seen such well-executed, imaginative and vivacious choreography. Choreographer Matt Newman has brought this group to such a high standard - I could not see anyone on stage who was not giving their utmost in every number, with their faces as well as their feet, and turning in a totally professional performance.

The set was very professional too. A simple backdrop of a graffiti covered warehouse wall, enhanced with trucks and furniture, as required. Just enough - never too elaborate, and well managed by the hard-working stage crew. I was particularly impressed with the look of the burger bar – congratulations to the scenery team for achieving such high standards. The set would be nothing without lighting and here again professionalism shone out (pardon the pun). The lighting for “Somebody’s Eyes” and for the train passing the warehouse were particularly noteworthy.

The orchestra, under the sensitive baton of Dennis Brombley, provided an excellent sound, always accompanying the singers and never drowning them out. The sound system, apart from a few first night glitches, was also excellent, enabling every word to be heard. I must also praise the cast members who did not have microphones but still managed to project their dialogue well into the audience.

Footloose seems to be the ideal show for a vibrant youth group with lots of budding future stars. Stage One Youth Theatre, under the confident direction of Jacqui Ivemy, grabbed those opportunities with both hands and gave us a stonkingly good evening’s entertainment.