Footloose - Musical ☆☆☆☆4
Showing from - Monday, September 19, 2016 through till Saturday, September 24, 2016
Blackpool Opera House - Blackpool
Sandra Mangan | Monday, September 19, 2016
I've certainly had my share of musical entertainment in 2016, from solving problems like Maria to folk airing their dirty dancing in public, it's been a roller coaster ride - and you know what? I hate roller coasters.
So along comes another musical to Blackpool and I'll admit I was feeling more than a little reluctant as I set off for the show. This cast of 18 is among the most accomplished I've seen in a long timeFootloose, eh? My companion and I agreed we had both seen the movie, but all we could recall was that Kevin Bacon (he of the EE telly ads) was in it. Didn't bode well....
How wrong we were (though, not about Kevin Bacon, obviously), because this was a high-energy, fast-moving, jukebox jive of a show that had the audience in its thrall from early doors. The show's publicity states "enjoy the best in UK musical talent, cutting-edge choreography and classic hits" and for once it wasn't exaggerating, because this cast of 18 is among the most accomplished I've seen in a long time.
Not content with singing, dancing and acting their hearts out, they also appear with real musical instruments (ranging from guitar and bass to sax, trumpet and oboe) and really play them – accomplished musicians all, they are given the chance to shine and snatch it with both hands. Live music at its finest, I promise you.
The musical numbers include an epic version of Holding Out for a Hero, Almost Paradise, Let’s Hear it for the Boy and of course the unforgettable title track, Footloose, but I also enjoyed the more low-key moments on the soundtrack, with Learning to Be Silent a standout which gave full rein to the vocal skills of Maureen Nolan as Vi.
Initially I was surprised that Gareth Gates was not in the leading role of Ren, but once Willard took to the stage I could see why. Gates showed unexpected lightness of touch and some great acting skills as he brought the shy, simple mother's boy to life - and his well-toned torso got a rapturous reception when it was revealed in Holding Out for a Hero. He really came into his own in Mama Says You Can't Back Down, which for me was one of the highlights of the evening.
Luke Baker and Hannah Price lit up the stage as Ren and Ariel, although the occasional sound glitch meant that some of Baker's words got a little lost in the mix. Overall, though, this is a show to savour. I urge you to catch it before the tour ends!
Touring the UK until 22nd October 2016
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