Review: ‘Footloose’ @ Birmingham Hippodrome

Matt Willis as Chuck Cranston

As part of the ‘A Night Less Ordinary’ scheme for 16-25s to get free theatre tickets, I was able to enjoy the absolutely fantastic dance-fever and singing sensation that was ‘Footloose’.

Ren’s move from Chicago to rural Bomont is a culture shock: dancing is outlawed, and the town lives under the memory of a terrible tragedy that occurred five years previously. Ren’s determination to see life restored to the decaying Bomont leads the audience on an uplifting journey through the trials and tribulations of being a teenager and breaking free from restrictions.

Practically nothing about the performance dragged or was overly downbeat: despite the tragic undertones to Rev. Shaw’s life, the constant change to the pace means the gloom never fully settles, and as such the audience is able to maintain it’s rhythm without dipping into depressive slumps.

The whole show was a combined effort: every cast member was brilliant in their own way, adding to the buoyancy of ‘Footloose’. The standout members of the show were definitely Rusty (Jodie Jacobs), with her incredibly powerful vocals, and the amazing Willard Hewitt (Giovanni Spano). Willard in particular was exceptionally well-played, with Spano moving between near-neanderthal to dance superstar to a massive round of applause, and was particularly impressed with his ability to keep his American accent whilst singing.

Max Milner, as leading man Ren McCormack, was fantastic, and the ability to maintain that level of energy, despite both singing and dancing, is a real credit to his abilities. The headliner of the show has been Matt Willis, who plays the local bad boy Chuck Cranston, and although I felt sad that he didn’t feature excessively, he was the perfect addition to the cast: if any theatre role was made for someone, I’m fairly sure Matt and Chuck were destined to be together. Lorna Want as Ariel was another brilliant bit of casting, moving between daddy’s little angel and rebelling teen easily before finding the balance between the two to conclude the show.

‘Footloose’ was one of the most cheerful and uplifting musicals I’ve ever had the pleasure to see, and it’s storyline proved that cutting footloose is the perfect way to find yourself when everything seems lost.

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