T’was several nights before Christmas, and we headed to The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to see Footloose: The Musical. It was produced by Kinetic Theatre, who have previously brought us the likes of Legally Blonde and Rent. As we found our seats and tucked into a bag of popcorn, I was skeptical but surely hopeful of how the 80’s classic film, which I am very fond of, would translate into a musical number.
The show followed the story of Ren McCormack, a high school student who had been moved from the hustle and bustle of Chicago to the small town Bomont. Soon after arriving, Ren was shocked to hear that after a tragic car accident several years before, the town had been placed under a ban of popular music and dancing, enforced by the town’s Reverend Shaw Moore. Against the hurdles of bullies, teachers and other townspeople, Ren rebels against the town’s laws and protests to bring dancing back to Bomont once again.
The storyline fell smoothly between each song, bringing more humour, heartbreak and humbling portrayals of the original characters to the stage. The music narrated the nitty-gritty of some of the relationships in the story, particularly the father-daughter tensions between Reverend Shaw (Jack Davies) and his daughter, and Ren’s (Jack Meek) love interest, Ariel (Georgia Tonge). Also, the budding romance and somewhat forbidden love between Ren and Ariel was delivered with such depth, allowing the audience to see their romance develop throughout the show. And the marriage trials and tribulations were executed brilliantly by Ariel’s parents, Reverend Shaw and Vi (Gwen James). The audience could truly feel the tension between the two characters.
Both the group numbers and solos were powerful, particularly in solos from Rusty (Georgia Miller) in ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boys’. Similarities between ‘Singin’ In The Rain’s ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ can be made for Ren and Willard (Cerith Freeman) in numbers ‘I Can’t Stand Still’ And ‘Mama Says’, with some impressive slapstick-style comedy and seriously impressive singing. The choreography was clever and creative throughout, and the live band created an electric atmosphere, particularly between scene changes, leading nicely into new songs. Kinetic Theatre brought the house down with their rendition of a classic, enough to make Kevin Bacon quake in his boots. Overall, this was an emotional, feel-good musical that had us singing all the way home!