REVIEW: Footloose

First published in Theatre The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , deputy editor

BIG City boy moves to hick town where rock music and dancing are banned. Footloose was a smash hit musical after Kevin Bacon wooed teenager across the land when he burst on to the screen in 1984.

Fast forward more than a quarter of a century and a group of youngsters who probably have never heard of Footloose, had the audience toe-tapping from curtain up.

St Paul's Players version matched the film version with all the enthusiasm and raw energy. Lead role of rebellious teenager Ren McCormack who takes on the might of the town council to bring dancing back to backwater Bomont, is played by Graham Hope, a blond version of a Daniel Radcliffe who had the girls swooning. He was better looking than Kevin Bacon too!

Wayward preacher's daughter Ariel was played with sassyness by a confident Abigail Roberts. There were some excellent golden oldies performed by Ariel's pals - Rusty (Bex McClean) with a powerful voice, Wendy-Jo (Emily Morris) and Urleen (Alice Hicks) who belted out "Holding out for a Hero" and "Let's hear it for the boy" that must have been heard in Horwich.

A poignant "Learning to be Silent" by mum/preacher's wife Jane Catterall and Ren's mum Laura Roberts had me reaching for my hankie. But there was also plenty of fun. Show stealer was Thomas Heyes as Willard Hewitt the awkward-around-girls Redneck who looked like Woody from Toy Story. But he surprised the audience with his nifty dance moves and his great "Mama Says (You Can't Back Down)" song. The band was brilliant, the choreography amazing, and everyone had a ball, with a rousing Footloose finale.

The odd first night sound glitches didn't matter. This was a tale of young versus oldies and in the end everyone won.

But one sour note - shame on the people of Adlington. The community centre was only a third full. Support your local theatre group!

Footloose.

St Paul's Players, Adlington Community Centre.

Runs until Saturday.

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