After a two-year delay due to Covid, this latest tour of Footloose has finally been allowed to cut loose in theatres around the country. And it was definitely worth the wait. From start to finish the energy of the mainly young and very enthusiastic cast was infectious and provided a very entertaining and most welcome post-pandemic tonic!
Based on the hit film from the 80’s, and including all the hit songs, the story tells of Ren and his mother moving to a small mid-west town in America where (for reasons that really are a little odd!) the town council, led by the Reverend Moore, have banned dancing and music. Coming from the big city of Chicago, Ren finds this stifling and with the need to express himself, and through the various friendships he builds, he eventually brings the town together to, once again, enjoy the joy of dance.
Heading the cast of this current tour are Darren Day, playing Ren’s nemesis Reverend Moore, and the cheeky Jake Quickenden as Ren’s buddy Willard. Their star power shines in all their scenes – and Jake knows how to use his best assets when required. The other leads and supporting cast must also be complimented as they all give 100% with their singing and dancing throughout. Plus, they all play a variety of instruments throughout the show which, with so much going on, on stage is a skill. Special call outs need to go to Joshua Hawkins playing the lead character Ren and Lucy Munden as his love interest (and the Rev’s daughter!) Ariel. Their performances are insightful to their storylines of loss and loneliness and their vocals are truly wonderful.
We are treated to all the well-known tracks from the movie ‘Holding Out for a Hero’, ‘Let’s Hear It for The Boy’ and obviously the title track – all are delivered with full on energy and accompanied by well-choreographed group dance routines – who knew line dancing could be such fun! The new songs that have been added into the show are also top quality and move the story on well. My favourite was a lovely ballad sung by the Reverend’s wife called ‘Can you find it in your heart?’.
The show is quite simply staged with the props and scene pieces moved on and off stage manually. This slightly detracted from some of the story telling but was adequate for a touring show. As it was only the second week of the tour, I can forgive the few odd microphone links and lighting issues. I’m sure this will all become slicker as the tour moves around the country.
When it came time to wrap up the show the finale performance of ‘Footloose’ and an obligatory mega-mix had everyone on their feet clapping and singing with big smiles on their faces… a perfect Monday night for everyone in the Brighton Theatre Royal!
Footloose is at Theatre Royal, Brighton until 26th February. Tickets are available here.
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