Footloose was good fun for 'dance enthusiasts'
By Ron Ellis
Footloose – The Musical
Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool
DIRECTED by Racky Plews, Footloose opened with a bang and carried on at a frenetic tempo right to the end, interspersed with occasional moments of tenderness and romance.
The storyline was as cheesy as they come, typical of a kids’ American TV show from the Fifties, an asinine plot and nothing in it to hold the interest.
Teenager, Ren (Joshua Dowen) and his Mum (Lindsay Goodhand) leave Chicago to go and live in a small town out in the sticks where the local priest, Rev. Moore (Reuven Gershon), who also runs the town council, has banned the population from dancing.
Gareth Gates eschewed his usual role of romantic lead to play Willard, the local goof, while Maureen Nolan was the priest’s wife, Vi, Grace Lancaster was the star performer of the evening, standing in as Ariel, her daughter, who dallied with Chuck (a good performance from Connor Going) before settling for Ram.
The emphasis of the show was on the dancing, augmented by songs of the 80’s like Holding Out For a Hero, Let’s Hear it for the Boy and, of course, Footloose itself although my favourite was the more R & B flavoured, Mama Says You Can’t Back Down.
Most of the musical backing was provided by members of the talented cast who showed their versatility by playing at least one instrument but I found the rest of the songs were instantly forgettable and very much marooned in the 80’s.
All credit to the designers who built the multi-operational set which featured a drummer up sat on high in a cage and a backdrop which transformed from a church to a café in an instant, plus a lightshow which highlighted the gyrating rhythms of the dancers.
Gareth Gates showed his comic talent and fine voice, and most of his body as well, but he’s wasting his talent in stuff like this. He would be wise to get back to Les Miserables and prolong his career.
Star rating: 5 out of 10. Good fun for dance enthusiasts but not a musical to remember.