By Tori Erskine
We Are Chester’s Tori Erskine heads to Storyhouse in Chester to sample the first offering of the new autumn season – a touring production of Footloose: The Musical. But did she kick off her Sunday shoes at all? Let’s find out how she got on. Main photo: Matt Martin. Other photos by Tori Erskine.
Footloose is one of the most iconic movies of all time, you just need to hear the opening beats of the memorable soundtrack and your foot will be tapping in no time. Naturally when I heard that the show would be making its way to Storyhouse Chester, I had to get myself signed up.
When I walked into the theatre, the first thing I noticed was that the stage had transformed into proscenium style. This eye-catching style was perfect for the staging, it was almost reminiscent of watching the show on a cinema screen and was an effective way to focus the audience’s viewing and capture their attention.
The set was designed by Sara Perks, whose work includes American Idiot in London, and effectively portrays the dreary town of Bomont, juxtaposed with the bright and bustling life of Chicago city. Throughout the show the cast utilised the set, most notably when Ariel (Hannah Price) and Ren (Joshua Dowen) climb up to shout their fears and emotions at the passing trains.
Each of the cast added their own spin to the characters, without trying to simply copy the styles of the original cast. No matter who was on stage, it was hard to single out any one of the actors as you couldn’t help but notice how truly multi-talented they all were, as they rotated playing the piano, guitar, woodwind and brass instruments.
Footloose: The Musical definitely boasts an abundance of talent, as well as the cast’s instrumental skills, their tight harmonies perfectly accompanied the impeccable choreography showcased throughout the show. The music blended perfectly into the storyline, (well, it is a musical after all!), and helped us to learn more about the characters’ lives. Holding Out For a Hero was used throughout the play, and was almost metaphorical for not only Rusty (Laura Sillett) and Willard’s (Dominic Gee Burch) will they/won’t they relationship, but also how the youths of Bomont town were literally crying out for a hero to rescue them from their emotional imprisonment and of course, being forbidden to dance.
The raw storyline which reflects on the town’s past tragedies and Ariel’s troubled relationship with her father, Reverend Shaw (Reuven Gershon) is entwined with lighthearted humour throughout. Most notably through Willard’s Mama Says, where he tells of some questionable advice he’s been given by his mother over the years, yet the comedy of the piece doesn’t overshadow the beautiful acapella style of the song.
Footloose: The Musical has something for everyone, humour, dancing and of course romance, as we witness Ariel and Ren’s relationship flourish throughout the show. The chemistry between Joshua Dowen (Ren) and Hannah Price (Ariel) is authentic and without giving too much away, everyone loves a happy ending right?
Even if you had never heard of Footloose before (how is that even possible?!) the show is guaranteed to have you up dancing for the finale. As the show opened with the Footloose signature theme, it effectively brought the performance to a close, along with a medley of tracks from the show. Without sounding horribly clichéd, you definitely will want to kick off your Sunday shoes! (We’re very glad to hear that! Ed)
Footloose: The Musical runs at Storyhouse until Saturday evening. To book contact Storyhouse.