Footloose the film rates near the top of the list of classic teen movies; the ones where misunderstood kids move to new towns, trouble follows them, but at the end of the day their goodness shows through. The hit 1984 movie shot Kevin Bacon into the spotlight, and much of the film’s soundtrack into the charts. Dean Pitchford has adapted his own screenplay and added some more songs to create the stage show, which opened at the Novello last night. Matthew Amer was there…
Ren McCormack is Footloose’s rebel of choice, a Chicago-ite forced to leave the clubs of the city and move to small town Bomont with his mother. In his new home his attempts to make new friends come across as brash and offensive, and while he grabs the attention of the female teenagers, the town’s parents don’t take to him as quickly. The tension is exacerbated by the town’s ban on dancing – enforced by the Reverend Shaw Moore following the tragic death of his son – with which Ren takes issue.
Footloose’s two most recognisable cast members, Stephen McGann (Reverend Moore) and Cheryl Baker (Vi Moore), play a supporting role to the youngsters, who steal the show with their high energy dance routines. Tracks such as Footloose, Holding Out For A Hero and I’m Free give the ensemble the chance to collectively burn more calories than many of Sunday’s London Marathon runners. Derek Hough, who plays rebel Ren, shows why he is a former world champion dancer, and is more than ably supported by the rest of the cast.
Lorna Want, as the Reverend’s daughter Ariel Moore, along with Stevie Tate-Bauer, Natasha McDonald and Lisa Gorgin, as her three friends, form a quartet which shines vocally. Holding Out For A Hero, which the foursome perform as a dream sequence while hoping for a boy to sweep them off their feet, is one of the evening’s most memorable moments and comes complete with a fireman, a naval officer, a secret agent and a couple of other hunks in trunks to boot.
Giovanni Spano, who plays Ren’s new best friend and awkward accomplice Willard, collected one of the biggest cheers of the night after moving from two-left-footed-dance-novice to high-kicking, knee-trembling rhythm-machine in the space of Let’s Hear It For The Boy. He gets a hefty helping of comic lines as well, including an entire song devoted to his mother’s pearls of wisdom, which include the important ‘Don’t buy a chandelier unless you’ve got a ceiling’.
While the kids work up a sweat, the adults content themselves with slower numbers. Baker leaves behind her skirt-swishing ever-smiling Bucks Fizz persona momentarily, to get to grips with some heartfelt ballads as she is caught between a still-grieving husband and a daughter who needs to move on.
Seventy hours before the cast took to the press night stage, the Novello had to deal with a broken basin flooding parts of the auditorium. Even that couldn’t dampen spirits last night as the infectious verve of the show roused the audience to kick off their Sunday shoes and cut footloose.
Footloose is currently booking until 9 September.