Review: Footloose

Joanna Sawyer as Rusty and Gareth Gates as Willard in Footloose. Photo Credit Matt Martin
Joanna Sawyer as Rusty and Gareth Gates as Willard in Footloose. Photo Credit Matt Martin
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WHEN Kevin Bacon reprised his role as Ren from 1984 movie Footloose on Jimmy Fallon’s US chat-show, it proved two things, the first, Kevin Bacon hasn’t aged a bi, the second, the world remains in love with the tale of young kid from Chicago who challenges a preacher over his small town’s ‘No Dancing’ rule.

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Festival Theatre

THE healthy attendance of the musical version last night, however, was, aided by the inclusion of Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates, who plays Willard, the muscle-bound village idiot with two left feet, and the lovely Maureen Nolan, whose appearance as the Reverend’s wife, Vi, cheered up many in the audience.

The latest touring production of Footloose is speedily paced, even the songs have been given a funkier makeover. The actor-musicians add jazz flavours to the pop songs many have stood in front of a mirror singing, hairbrush in hand, along to as teenagers.

The chief letdown, sadly, is the clunky set, which fails to utilise British theatre’s deepest stage. The story too, is light on content, but that matters little. It’s all about the singing and dancing, a chance to forget about the real world for a couple of hours.

In that respect, actors and production team achieve their goal.

Kevin Bacon look-alike, Luke Baker, more than holds his own alongside Gates and Nolan. Indeed, he deserves credit for encapsulating a teenager who can remain a cool, rowdy outsider whilst still being a polite, in-touch-with-his-feelings young man.

Baker’s foil, meanwhile, the uptight Reverend Shaw (Nigel Lister), suggests that if history has taught us anything, it’s that repressed, right-wing Bible-bashers who protest too much are usually hiding a deep dark secret.

No-one is going to focus on that for long, though, for Footloose doesn’t demand close attention to the deeper, wider issues involved.


Run ends Saturday