Footloose at The Bristol Hippodrome

Did I actually ever watch the 1983 film, Footloose, or is it just I’ve seen the video of the Kenny Loggins’ title track with Kevin Bacon dancing some kind of mad bop so many times that I think I might have? I really don’t remember. But, I certainly didn’t know the story. Not that it’s a difficult one – North city boy moves to Hick town, where nothing ever happens. This is Bible Belt, West Virginia, a place where women are scared to speak their minds, where teenagers are forbidden to have fun (I’m not sure where all the black folk are?) But, fresh from Chicago, fuelled by sadness turned to anger, Ren McCormack is the newcomer destined to change all that.

Ren falls for rebellious Ariel, the daughter of Vi and Rev Shaw Moore. Ariel is a girl who has more reasons than most for spitting in the face of authority, not least because it’s her cloaked-in-pain dad (once her friend) who is pushing through any number draconian laws in the town of Bomont. Together, with friends, the kids fight. And win.

Footloose the Musical is fun, with layers of cheese and ham aplenty. The infantile jokes and exaggerated characters delighted the audience of The Bristol Hippodrome. Luke Baker does a good turn in playing a pained, determined and likeable Ren, while Hannah Price, as Ariel, is sweet yet feisty. Gareth Gates boasts the voice of the night with his extremely Lennie-esque (of Of Mice and Men) take on Bomont’s loveable fool, Willard, though his lack of ability to string a sentence together and that constant gurning didn’t convince me that Joanna Sawyer’s Rusty would really fancy him – apart from his body beautiful, like. But I’m glad she does because Sawyer gets to belt out “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” with such abandon that I’m still singing it.

A definite plus of this show is that all instruments are played by the cast. This evening, Lauren Storer stepped in for Maureen Nolan as the lenient and suffering Vi Moore, picking up any number of wind instruments when she wasn’t convincing us that she, in fact, should have been cast in the role of Vi all along.

If you enjoy a bit of a laugh, an innocent, uncomplicated musical and a sing-a-long to a few 1980’s, ahem, classics, this is worth taking the kids to. I’d have liked  to have seen more dancing. But, I suppose, that’s the point?

My 10 year old daughter, Celeste, loved it! She writes:

Footloose was fantastic!

My favourite character was Gareth Gates that played Willard. I also liked Luke Baker (Ren) and Hannah Price (Ariel). I really love to dance and I dance at least twice a day, sometimes more.

I liked the characters because they were amazing at singing and I loved Ariel because she was mostly bubbly and up to play. I liked Ren because he was very random and fun and I liked Willard because he was so funny – I think he could be Mr Bean Number 2.

The set was nice and I liked the name of the town Bomont. All the characters were so good at acting and they really meant it. I just love Footloose.

Footloose shows at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 6th August.

Review by Becky Condron

Image by Matt Martin, with thanks

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