Movie spin off still packs 'em in

Hoe down time  as Footloose cranks up the action

Footloose - the Dance Musical

Birmingham Hippodrome

****

THERE are some songs that will always fill the dance floor at any wedding. From the very first bar people jump unsteadily to their alcohol fuelled feet and they're immediately transported to a time when their co-ordination was good and their dress sense was very very bad. Footloose is one of those songs. 

Its a film that I must admit is something of a guilty pleasure and I can't really explain why. It shouldn't work it shouldn't draw you it, but it does and all you really need is the intro:Downg dang dang dang dang dang dang dang dang...  

So I was quite looking forward to this show. To be fair it was not without it merits. They did not wait long to break out the title song, indeed its was the second or third number. This seemingly is a production that knew what the audience had come for and it was eager to deliver. And yet as a piece I and my companion found that it fell short. 

Matt Willis, star of Busted and I'm A Celebrity, who plays the tough guy Chuck Cranston complete with tattoo sleeves. Picture: Robert Day

There were strong supporting performances, notably Giovanni Span who was excellent as Willard and the trio Jodie Jacobs, Keisha Amponsa Banson and Tanya Robb who all had some very nice interplay and got everything that they could from the sometimes lacklustre script.

The lead performances were by no means bad, but they didn't quite have the passion that one would hope for. The story is an emotive one, or at least it could be, and that did not always shine through.  

There were flashes of genuine quality in the performance. The choreography, by director Karen Bruce, was engaging and energetic and some of the set pieces were well executed, however too often these barnstorming ensembles were let down by the intervening scenes which were unable to transfer the energy of the dances into the script. 

This is a very successful show and has been for ten years but in the same way that I am not totally sure why the film worked so well, I'm not totally sure why this did not. Generally I would say that the cast deserved better both in terms of script and sound, which was sometimes difficult to hear, for their technical dance skills, which did at times display undoubted prowess.  

This was not a bad production but one can't help but feel that it could have been a great one. Having said that I've been humming footloose all bloody day, so it must have had some effect on me. To 19-03-11

Christian Clarke

Meanwhile dancing to a different beat

***** 

THIS rip-roaring musical began life as a movie in 1984, but its transfer to the stage has seen the show pull in large audiences all over the country, and a return visit to Birmingham is proving as popular as ever.

Opening night ended in cheers and a standing ovation for a terrific young cast whose singing and dancing was, at times, simply breathtaking.

Based on a true story, it tells how a God-fearing town in America bans public dancing in a move to crack down on risky behaviour by its young people, following a tragic car crash.

So it's a touch ironic that the musical is jam packed with stunning choreography by director Karen Bruce, including some of the most steamy, sexy and athletic dances imaginable (such as the cowboy and cowgirl right)

Heading the cast is Matt Willis, star of Busted and I'm A Celebrity, who plays the tough guy Chuck Cranston, finding he has a love rival in Ren McCormack, a city boy ready to stir things up when he moves to rural backwater, Bomont.

Max Milner is excellent as Ren, forming a perfect partnership with Lorna Want, playing glam blonde Ariel, daughter of the strict Rev Shaw Moore (Steven Pinder). A fine performance, too, from Giovanni Spano, the dance shy Willard Hewitt.

Frantic Footloose runs to Saturday 19-03-11

Paul Marston 

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