REVIEW: FOOTLOOSE @ THE PRINCESS THEATRE
📍 Princess Theatre, Torbay Road, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 5EZ
🗓 Thursday 11th August 2022
EVERYBODY CUT LOOSE!
Footloose The Musical is based on the sensational hit 1980's movie of the same name and, for the most part, follows the same storyline.
The musical opens with the title track being performed and we meet lead character Ren (Joshua Hawkins) as he prepares to leave Chicago with his mum Ethel (Wendy Paver) for the small town of Beaumont.
In Beaumont Ren is thrown into small town America. With religion at the heart of the community, Reverend Shaw (Darren Day) is a powerful figure and Ren soon learns the harsh realities of living in a small community where Somebody's Eyes are always watching you.
Shaw and his wife Vi (Holly Ashton) had a son who was killed alongside some other kids from the community during an accident. The Reverend blames popular music and dancing for their deaths and bans public dancing in the town.
Their daughter Ariel (Lucy Munden) is a bit of a wild child and doesn't stick to curfews and rules set by her father. She's dating high school dropout and bad boy Chuck (Tom Mussell) but slowly turns her affections to Ren.
Ren makes friends with Willard (Luke Friend) who is a bit of a hick and has a crush on Rusty (Oonagh Cox) and when on a date out of town, it's revealed that Willard can't dance. Ren teaches him to dance during Let's Hear it for the Boy.
Ren fights Shaw and the town council to allow them to throw a dance and abandon the law banning dancing. He is originally rejected, but eventually the Reverend softens and the finale of the show is the dance that the town is desperate for.
This production is filled with all the songs you know and love from the film including Holding Out For a Hero, Almost Paradise and I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man) as well as some original songs.
Luke Friend as WIllard was possibly my favourite part of this production. He kind of reminded me of Mater from the animated movie Cars! I mean that in a good way! He played the loveable fool convincingly and I enjoyed him singing Mama Says, which has always been a favourite song of mine from this show.
Although there were some good performances throughout, there was no wow moment for me. Everything from the music to the singing and the choreography seemed very subdued. I was constantly wanting more from the performances. More rock in the music especially.
This production had singer/musicians and although this can work for some shows, I felt that it hindered this production. When the central theme to a show is dance, you expect phenomenal choreography and dancing but unfortunately this production didn't deliver on this. Because they are carrying and playing instruments, this obviously restricts the choreography somewhat and the slickness of the dancing too.
As this tour is coming towards the end, I would expect slickness to be second to none but I found that for me there were many timing issues with the dancing.
With the singing, it's not as if there was anything wrong with it, it's just that I was constantly thinking the vocals could be pushed more and there was no performance that blew me away.
I guess when you're trying to fulfil so many things with one person, inevitably the quality will suffer as you end up with a company filled with jack-of-all-trades.
I did enjoy the combination of Rusty, Urleen (Samantha Richards) and Wendy-Jo (Jess Barker). Their interactions were played out well, with good comedic timing and were enjoyable to watch.
Both Ashton and Paver has nice singing voices and their performance of Learning to be Silent was heartbreaking and sung well.
Overall I felt this production was enjoyable and I would see it again despite my perceived negatives.
There were quite a few empty seats in the auditorium which I felt was a shame and the company did work hard to bring a party atmosphere to the theatre, especially during the finale.
Footloose The Musical is playing at the Princess Theatre in Torquay until Saturday 13th August. Tickets are still available for all remaining performances
The final week of the tour is next week (Monday 15th August - Saturday 20th August) at the New Wimbledon Theatre in Wimbledon.
All views are my own & I pride myself on being honest & free from influence.