REVIEW: Footloose, Sunderland Empire, Until October 15
If you're looking to cut loose and kick off your Sunday shoes, then this is the show for you.
Footloose the Musical is a whole lot of fun.
Based on the 1984 film, it follows Ren McCormack (Luke Baker) who moves from Chicago to a small town where dancing is illegal.
While fighting for the attention of Ariel (Hannah Price), the rebellious daughter of town preacher Rev Shaw Moore (David J Higgins) and his wife Vi (Maureen Nolan), he attempts to have the law overturned.
Baker was phenomenal in the leading role. He’s an amazing dancer and he sings like a rock star. His rendition of I Can’t Stand Still really got the party started.
Price was equally impressive as the troubled youth doing everything she can to get her father’s attention.
The star of the show though is undoubtedly Gareth Gates. The Pop Idol star takes on the comedic role of Ren’s new best mate Willard and he’s completely unrecognisable as the goofy character.
Willard is sweet but a little dim and Gates adopts a deep southern accent that he pulls of impeccably.
His hopeless flirting with Rusty (Joanna Sawyer) is heart-warmingly sweet, but girls, brace yourselves for the moment his clothes are ripped off during Holding Out For A Hero – that boy is fit!
He gets the chance to show off his singing skills with Mama Says (You Can’t Back Down) and he was brilliant.
Gates definitely belongs on the theatre stage.
Nolan is great in the maternal role as is Nicky Swift, who plays Ren’s mum Ethel.
Actor-musicians supply all of the music live on stage and it’s extremely impressive.
The choreography is big and bold, particularly with Ren, who flips all over the stage, but it’s also very cleverly done.
Number Somebody’s Eyes saw the girls explaining to Ren that dancing is illegal, and although they’re not stood still, they’re not really dancing either – it’s done really well.
The musical features a number of original songs that are cool and catchy, as well as a few chart hits, like Let’s Hear It For The Boy – one of my favourite numbers in the show – and of course, Footloose.
The entire crowd got to their feet at the end to join the cast for a boogie.
I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun watching a show.
It does deal with some heavy issues as well, like death, abuse, and divorce, but it’s all handled brilliantly.
You’re guaranteed to leave the theatre feeling happy and uplifted, and dying to go out and dance.