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Brisbane review - Footloose: The Musical: a high energy, fun, heartfelt production

By David Wilson

 

Footloose the Musical

Stage adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie

Based on the original screenplay by Dean Pitchford

Music by Tom Snow

Lyrics by Dean Pitchford

Additional music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins and Jim Steinman

Directed and choreographed by Isabelle Quayle

Musically directed by Benjamin Richards

Footloose is presented through special arrangement with Origin™ Theatrical on behalf of R&H Theatricals, a Concord Theatricals company.

Presented by Phoenix Ensemble

Every Friday and Saturday in February 2024 at the Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh Showgrounds, James Street, Beenleigh

Tickets are available at https://www.trybooking.com/CMHIS

$40 adult, $35 concession, $30 for bookings of 10 or more

 

Footloose is a Tony nominated 1998 musical based on the hugely popular musical drama film from 1984 which catapulted Kevin Bacon to fame and also starred Lori Singer and John Lithgow.

Set to a wonderful score, Footloose celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people while guiding them with a warm heart and open mind.

When Ren and his mother move from Chicago to a small farming town, he is prepared for the inevitable adjustment period at his new high school. But he’s not prepared for the rigorous local edicts, including a ban on dancing instituted by the local preacher, who is determined to exercise control over the town’s youth. When the reverend’s rebellious daughter sets her sights on Ren, her roughneck boyfriend tries to sabotage Ren’s reputation, with many of the locals eager to believe the worst about the new kid. The heartfelt story that emerges pins a father longing for the son he lost against a young man aching for the father who walked out on him.

The creative team at Phoenix Ensemble has done a great job of bringing this high energy and very entertaining production to life. One of the things that is most noticeable about this production is the amount of work that has gone into the excellent choreography of Isabelle Quayle. This was complemented beautifully by the talented band led by Benjamin Richards which did justice to such well known songs as the iconic ‘Footloose’, ‘Holding Out for a Hero’ and ‘Let’s Hear it for the Boy’.

Sam Caruana was fabulous as Ren McCormack. His very confident and charismatic portrayal, with great vocals, high energy and very cool moves, delivered a well-rounded character that comfortably balanced the fast, fun, quick wit of the character with the underlying sensitivity of the character. His characterisation in particular was excellent.

Yasmin Fitzgerald captured the rebellious nature of Ariel Moore very well. Some of her best work was in the one-on-one moments when clashing with her Reverend father, and also with Ren when screaming at the train and at the ‘graffiti wall’. Her vocals with Caruana on “Almost Paradise’ were fantastic.

Andrew McArthur made a very formidable Reverend Shaw Moore, the spiritual leader of the town. His gravitas was abundant, and the characters inner torture and ultimate mellowing was very well done. His strong characterisation and presence was exactly what was needed for the role, and the more tender moments between McArthur and Della Days as Vi Moore were lovely.

The success of a musical like Footloose lies not only in the performances of the leads, but of all the cast. In particular Aidan Cobb as Willard Hewitt was outstanding and an audience favourite. His performance of ‘Mama Says’ showed excellent comedic timing, and he almost had me fooled into thinking he actually couldn’t dance - how wrong I was!

 Ariel’s offsiders, played by AJ Betts, Wednesday Reign and Chelsea Jamieson were individually great, collectively terrific, particularly in ‘Somebody’s Eyes’. Betts was very strong throughout, and their handling of ‘Let’s Hear it for the Boy’ was very well appreciated by the audience.

Meanwhile Emma Erdis was particularly threatening as the ‘bad-boy’ Chuck Cranston, with strong characterisation.

In a dance-forward musical like Footloose, it was fabulous to see the excellent choreography being performed with such commitment by the full cast, particularly the talented Olivia Van Gool and Sophie Smith.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable production. While there were a couple of minor lighting and sound issues in Act 1, they seemed to be resolved very quickly and in no way detracted from the overall enjoyment of the performance in any event.

This is a high energy, fun, heartfelt production and I encourage you to see it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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