This afternoon I got the chance to see the current UK tour of Footloose the Musical and what a great afternoon out it was! This show was so much fun with a brilliant cast and a catchy, feel-good score.
The show looked great visually thanks to Sara Perks (American Idiot, Betty Blue Eyes), the designer. The costumes all looked spot on for the characters and the set really worked very well for the show, despite being fairly simple, and it allowed the show to flow very smoothly. Racky Plews’ (American Idiot) direction and choreography brought out a lot of passion in the show and her decision to make the production actor-musician worked faultlessly.
Headlining the tour are Gareth Gates (Pop Idol, Joseph, Loserville) as Willard and Maureen Nolan (Blood Brothers) as Vi Moore and Principal Clark. Gareth wasn’t performing as Willard in Sheffield so instead it was Dominic Gee Burch (Departures – a Song Cycle, Shrek the Musical) and you wouldn’t have had a clue he didn’t play the role full time. He was hilarious in the role, characterised Willard brilliantly and had some brilliant vocals, particularly in Mama Says. Maureen Nolan did a great job in both of her roles, with some beautiful vocals in her songs as Vi. She had a great onstage chemistry with Reuven Gershon (Let It Be) who played Reverend Shaw Moore. He was very well cast in the role and made his character as unlikeable as he should be but equally wins the audience back over in the finale with his surprising guitar solo.
Emma Fraser (The Vaudevillains, Aladdin) as Wendy-Jo gives plenty of laughs throughout the show and Gracie Lai (Avenue Q, South Pacific) makes for a wonderful and very likeable Urleen. Laura Sillett (Grease, Dreamboats and Petticoats) completes the tight-nick trio as Rusty who does a wonderful job in the role, showing off some great vocals in Let’s Hear It For The Boy. Lindsay Goodhand (Crazy For You) also has some delightful, yet slightly underused, vocals as Ethel McCormack and her on stage relationship with her on stage son is very realistic and heartwarming.
The stars of the show were without a shadow of a doubt Connor Going (The Pirates of Penzance, High School Musical) as Chuck, Joshua Dowen (Dogfight, tick, tick… BOOM!) as Ren McCormack and Hannah Price (Godspell, Don’t Run, Pandora) as Ariel Moore. All three delivered some exceptional vocals throughout the show. Connor did a brilliant job in this villainous role whilst Hannah and Joshua had a beautiful on stage chemistry.
The show itself, despite being nothing complex, is lots of fun from start to end and it never feels like it’s dragging. It’s definitely worth a visit if you can catch it in it’s final few weeks.
Footloose the Musical plays at Sheffield Lyceum until Saturday 2nd September, before touring to Chester Storyhouse, The Peacock Theatre in London and Liverpool’s Royal Court, where it closes on Friday 3rd November. Gareth Gates is not scheduled to appear at Chester Storyhouse.