Thursday, 16 June 2016

"Footloose" by The Young Performers
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
It's back to the 1980's for the latest show by the Young Performers and this is a wonderful vehicle for the drama society. It's the story of Ren McCormack, a teenager from Chicago, who has moved to a hick town called Bomont with his mum after his dad walked out a few years ago. The town minister, Shaw Moore, has banned dancing after a car accident years ago where four teenagers of the town died on the way back from a dance.
Ren slowly manages to fit in with the teenagers but makes enemies of the other townfolk. He makes friends with Willard, who isn't the fastest gun in the west, as well as befriending Ariel, the teenage daughter of Shaw and Vi Moore, and girlfriend to the bullying Chuck Cranston. Ren makes it his aim to overturn the dancing ban. With the kids on his side, all he now has to do is convince Shaw Moore..
Liam Morris (Ren) was excellent in the role of the town newcomer, and at 16 years old he showed great confidence as our boot-scooting hero that Ariel had been holding out for. A good choice for the leading man.
Nicola Northcott (Ariel) is the owner of a beautiful voice and her control on the stripped back version of "Holding out For A Hero" was lovely to hear, showing great maturity.
Harvey Latter (Shaw Moore) is another young actor who presented his character with great maturity. Where as the teenage parts, played by teenagers isn't a great stretch, because they are their playing age, Harvey had to convince us that he was a strict man of the cloth. For me after a while I soon forgot he was a teenager and he became the character, and it's great when one so young can convince an audience that they are their intended role. Brilliant job!
Erin Hill (Vi Moore), again a lovely voice showcased beautifully in her solo "Can You Find It In Your Heart".
Emily Owen (Ethyl McCormack) is another character actor in the making, and again playing a part so much older than she is and making us believe her character.
Zak Charlesworth (Chuck Cranston) is still only 18 years old but has done so much in musical theatre, When I get to see someone like Zak perform as I have several times, I sometimes get the feeling that he has a tendency to play it safe. With this role, there was no safe and it was great to see him play a nasty piece of work in Chuck. Not only was his character miles away from his past roles, it was also good to hear Zak belt out a song like "The Girl Gets Around". Much as I love to hear Zak sing musical theatre songs, this showed a new and fresh side of him, which i like just as much as his Jean Valjean types.Thanks Zak, you surprised me again.
Jake Truman (Willard) was an absolute star for me last night. A true country simpleton with a heart of gold, loyal to the last and a great sense of humour. His confession to Ren that he couldn't do "it" was hilarious, even though we knew "it" wasn't what Ren first thought "it" was. The section where Ren taught Willard a few choice dance moves was one of the many highlights for me, and it looked like Willard was hiding his dance talents under a bushel with some nifty moonwalking thrown in there.
A wonderful ensemble full of people who looked like they were loving every minute of stage time, almost as much as we in the audience were loving seeing them on the stage. The sheer enthusiasm was a joy to see from absolutely everyone, but I was drawn to one young man, who seemed to be the smallest one there, who constantly gave his all in every piece of choreography given. One of many stars in the making on stage.
A live band on stage under the direction of Leon Wade produced a wonderful musical back drop to some brilliant 80's classics from the film, "Let's Hear It For The Boy", "Holding Out For A Hero" and of course "Footloose" as well as lesser known numbers like "Learning To be Silent", sung wonderfully by Erin, Emily and Nicola and the fun song "Mama Says" sung by Jake, Ryan Yates, Finley McQuade and a character called Bickle.
Directed by Tricia Freer and Vicky Moran with superb choreography byAlex Tavener and Lauren Riley. A really swift stage crew shifted the props on and off stage and the lighting and sound was by Dave Martin and David Simms.
i must also mention the costumes and hair and especially the make up (Gemma Riley) because that black eye that Ren sported was pretty vicious looking!
All in all this was a very enjoyable romp through the backwoods of Bomont with a great cast who were having as much fun on stage as we were having off stage.
"Footloose" is on at the Duchess Theatre until Saturday 18 June 2016.

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