It’s time to cut loose and head to the King’s theatre to see a show that will have you up on your feet.
Footloose tells the iconic story of a boy who finds himself in the town of Bomont, where it is deemed illegal to dance due to an incident years prior. Being the new guy in town, Ren (Joshua Hawkins) causes a stir within the small community with this cheeky attitude and passion for dance.
This juke box musical is not the only adaption of the original Footloose film (1984) with a remake of the classic released in 2011. However, the musical manages to merge the old with the new – paying homage to the unforgettable moments from the films while bringing its own identity to the stage.
The production has a range of talented performers within its ranks. Lucy Munden, making her professional debut, showcases her incredible vocals while providing an engaging and well-rounded take on Ariel Moore. Hawkins provides an equally as enthusiastic take on the character and makes the audience root for him with his witty comments and charismatic personality. Aston Merrygold (JLS) and Darren Day join the cast as Willard Hewitt and Rev. Shaw Moore respectively. Each provide an enjoyable performance and have their moments to shine.
From the offset, it is clear that this show will be different to what is usually performed on stage. Announcements are made making it clear that all instruments on stage will be played by the cast. From guitars to saxophones to flutes, there is no shortage of musical talent radiating from the cast. Furthermore, not only are the cats playing instruments often while dancing but at one point even while skipping!
That brings us to the closing number of Act One – ‘I’m Free’. Although it is one of the weaker numbers of the show, especially after having to follow extravaganza that is ‘Holding out for a Hero’, the energy and enthusiasm of the performers on stage is enough to keep you entertained.
Holding out for a Hero is the undisputed highlight of Act One. Complete with roller skates, smoke machines and some powerful vocals provided by Munden, the number will easily have you clapping along.
Act Two kicks off and finally allows Aston Merrygold (JLS) to show off what he is capable of. Playing Willard Hewitt, his is often only relegated to the awkward sidekick. However, here we get to see his musical capabilities shine. Not only does he deliver brilliant vocals, but he has the audience clapping and cheering once he overcomes his inability to dance.
Where the latter half of this show begins to struggle is when it comes to the emotional beats. Bringing more character driven moments into the second half, the show stumbles on delivering the emotional catharsis it is clearly aiming for. The feud between Ariel and her father (Darren Day) is a clear example of this. The moment where he strikes his daughter is a pivotal moment felt in the film. Sadly, the same impact is missing in the blink and you’ll miss it version that is depicted here.
Despite this, the show ends in spectacular fashion, with the Footloose cast firing on all cylinders for the closing number. The final number brings all the talent on stage with instruments galore and has little challenge getting the audience to rise and clap along.
Ultimately, if you are looking for a fun, upbeat night at the theatre, this is the show for you. The energetic performances and nostalgia riddled tunes will have audiences on their feet just like the senior class of Bomont.
Playing until the 6th August in Glasgow before continuing on tour, https://footloose-musical.com/
Reviewer: Lucy McGuire
Reviewed: 1st August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★