Audiences find they are Footloose

Footloose, Regent Theatre, until Saturday GROWING up in the generation that fell in love with films like Dirty Dancing, The Breakfast Club and Grease, it was always inevitable that Footloose was going to be somewhere among my favourites.

GROWING up in the generation that fell in love with films like Dirty Dancing, The Breakfast Club and Grease, it was always inevitable that Footloose was going to be somewhere among my favourites.

The 1984 film that made a star of Kevin Bacon tells the story of a rebellious teenager who makes waves when his moves from Chicago to the small town of Bomont.

As he tries to adjust from city life to small town living, Ren McCormack also begins to challenge the restrictive rules imposed on Bomont's residents - in particular the law that bans dancing.

When four youngsters from the town died in a car accident on their way home from a dance five years previously, dance was blamed and so a law banning it was passed.

Too afraid to challenge it, Bomont's teenagers instead live angst-filled lives, wishing away the days until they can leave the town. Until of course, a crusading hero arrives in the form of Ren McCormack.

Throw in a rebellious preacher's daughter, some lovesick but tongue-tied teenagers and you have all the makings of the perfect feel-good musical movie turned stage show.

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Currently touring, this high-kicking and foot-stomping musical is a sure-fire crowd pleaser wherever it goes. And with a new young cast just three weeks into their stint on the road, opening night at the Regent was fit to bursting with energy and enthusiasm.

As Ren, Stephen Webb showed incredible dance talent and staying power without once breaking into a sweat. As the preacher's daughter Ariel, Twinnie-Lee Moore matches Webb every dance step of the way, and has impressive vocal talents to boot. Audiences always need a puppy to love and Simon Lipkin's shy, sweet Willard quickly won them over.

As is so often the case with musicals, it isn't so much the gentle ballads or emotional solos that we were all there to see - however well they were performed. But instead it was numbers like Holding Out For A Hero, Let's Hear It For The Boy and, of course, Footloose that got the audience clapping and itching to get on their feet.

By the time the bows were over and the cast were somehow finding the energy to reprise several dance numbers, you barely contain the clapping and singing audience from jumping on stage too, although perhaps it did all look a little too exhausting.

HELEN JOHNS

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