Footloose is yet another of those famous Eighties films that I’ve never actually seen, but even so I decided to check out the touring stage production when it visited the New Wimbledon Theatre recently. The 1998 musical is based on the 1984 film of the same name, and has music is by Tom Snow, lyrics by Dean Pitchford and a book by Pitchford and Walter Bobbie. This actor-musician production is directed by Racky Plews.
The show is about a particularly religious, small town in America in which dancing is banned owing to a tragic accident some years before. Newcomer Ren is horrified to discover this, and also ends up falling in love with the vicar’s daughter Ariel. Can he convince the minister that dancing should be permitted?
Though the religious themes of the show are somewhat alien to British culture, they do make the piece a bit more meaningful. I didn’t think there was enough tension in the show: there was no sense of urgency and little sense of something huge being at stake. Having said that, it was interesting enough and proved a good excuse to enjoy several memorable tracks, including the title song.
I was very impressed with Hannah Price as Ariel, and Luke Baker was very good as Ren. While I wasn’t a fan of the character of Willard, who seemed far too over the top, I didn’t think 911’s Lee Brennan did a bad job at all in playing the role.
I would have liked to see far fewer solos from the adults in the cast, as their songs unfortunately tended to be quite dull. I much preferred the energetic and catchy numbers sung by the younger generation. Having said that, overall I did enjoy Footloose more than I thought I would, and I will probably go and check out the film.