Fun and frolics with Footloose

FOOTLOOSE exploded onto the Theatre Royal stage at Nottingham on Monday in an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza of fun.

This is the touring company of the original West End musical based on the 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon and tells the tale of teenager Ren McCormack (Max Milner) who, deserted by his father, leaves Chicago with his mother for smalltown Bomont.

Here, the town council, led by Rev Shaw Moore (Steven Pinder), has banned dancing after a tragic road accident involving four young people. Ren and his new friends Willard (Giovanni Spano) and Rusty (Jodie Jacobs) mount a campaign to bring dance back.

Just to further complicate matters Ren, big-city attitude notwithstanding, falls head-over-heels for Ariel (Lorna Want), a local girl, only to find she is the daughter of Rev Moore.

There follows some superb moments of comedy and song, with Jacobs (she played Eva Peron during the West End run of Evita) giving a fine version of Let’s Hear It For The Boy while Willard is being taught how to dance.

Another highlight is Holding Out For a Hero, involving Jacobs, Want, Keisha Amponsa Banson and Tanya Robb.

As a counter-balance to all this energy, there are excellent performances in some sensitive moments from Pinder, Karen Ascoe as his wife and Carys Gray as Ren’s mother.

Add some neat scene-changing which takes us into the church, the Moore home, a country and western dance hall and the high school and the path is laid to the finale in which the title song brings the audience to its feet.

It’s easy to see why the stunning and infectious choreography has earned such critical acclaim.

But this is a triumph for the whole cast, including a terrific band and spectacular sets, leading to a standing ovation that was thoroughly deserved.

Footloose can be seen at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham until Saturday, May 21.