Yes, it’s true. I’m one of those ‘people’ who have never seen the original Footloose film. I have, although, seen the latest remake featuring Dennis Quaid and Julianne Hough. But unfortunately I have never had the pleasure of seeing Kevin Bacon shaking in his dancing shoes. So, when I sat in my seat at the Bristol Hippodrome to watch Footloose The Musical, I went in with an open mind when suddenly the lights went out and the legendary tune started playing…
For those that don’t know, Footloose is based on a true story. In Elmore City, Oklahoma, a 90-year law banning dancing was affecting the lives of many high school kids. The high schoolers had spent their childhood’s secretly traveling miles from home just to dance. So when the junior class president, Rex Kennedy, kicks up a fuss and asks why there is a ban – the towns council replied saying “We don’t remember and there’s nobody left alive who remembers why it’s a law, but it’s been a law on the books 88 years”. Today the famous Footloose storyline is set in Bomont, Vest Virginia around the life of Ren McCormack, the new rebellious teen from Chicago that’s here to make a change.
With a small, but extremely talented cast, featuring the audience favourite, Gareth Gates as the lovable and unwitting Willard. The musical became a show like I’ve never seen before. The director, Racky Plews, decided to create an actor-musician show where the actors are also the band, playing within the show. At first it seemed a bit distracting and contradictory; the show is meant to be about a town that has banned dancing yet there’s still a huge love for music through instruments. However, as the show went on the musicians became much more suited to the performance. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be strumming a guitar or banging the drums whilst singing along to some of your favourite hit songs from the 80s.
Luke Baker, who played a cheeky Ren McCormack, was truly fitting to the role. Just like the film you were able to feel sorry for him as an outsider to a new town, yet his bold and mischievous city charm gives you inspiration and courage to make things right. Along with Hannah Price, playing the rebellious Ariel, the pair made quite a show. Her astonishing performance of I Need A Hero, alongside her girl-power band of actors, made you want to be a sassy woman who knows what she wants from a man. Within the whole musical, I have to give my praise to Joanna Sawyer, who played Rusty, the fast-talking, happy go lucky girl of Bomont. Paired with Gareth Gates, the duo turned the heartfelt true story into a show that is exceptionally funny and delightful.
It may not be a classic to all generations but it’s definitely one musical you have to see for yourselves. If you loved the film, you’ll love what the live show has to offer with performances of the famous soundtrack and that addictive southern tang. You are sure to be up and dancing with your arms in the air to forget about your troubles and cut loose… Footloose.