Photo: Jonny Faint
Footloose is a 1998 musical based on the 1984 film of the same name. The Bromley Players who have been performing a wide range of shows since 1967 are putting their own spin on the production, under Sarah Chapman's direction, and are performing it at The Bob Hope Theatre.
The story revolves around Ren a teenager who is moving with his mum from the hustle and bustle of Chicago to the quiet farming town of Bomont. Almost as soon as he arrives he realises it's very different from anything he has been used to; due to a tragic accident a law has been passed that decrees dancing, amongst other things, has been banned. The town is run by a council, with the local reverend seemingly calling all the shots. The reverend’s daughter, Ariel, is something of a wild child and soon strikes up a friendship with Ren. With the help of Ariel and his new friends Ren tries to overturn the law and help the town heal through the power of dance.
As you enter the auditorium there is a buzz of excitement from the audience; the Bromley Players are clearly supported and enjoyed. What is also very clear within the first few minutes is that William Rye and Michael Flanagan’s choreography is of a very high standard. At times there is a stage packed with a cast (of varying abilities) and somehow they all are involved in dances and routines without anyone seeming out of place. The choreography and dancing is nothing short of outstanding.
The cast includes a wide range of people all of whom have enthusiasm and a clear passion for performing – but are at times perhaps a little too enthusiastic, especially if dialogue is also taking place and you end up being distracted by members of the cast or chorus constantly whispering, overacting or making unnecessary noise. Unfortunately a lot of dialogue and punch-lines are lost due to this phenomenon.
That said, George Morgan (Ren) is a natural actor, instantly likeable and playing the part of Ren very well. Stephanie Gironi (Ethel) takes on a smaller role but has huge stage presence every time she walks on. She is involved in the song Learning to be Silent where her talent really shines through. I only wish she was onstage more often, especially vocally. Joanne Frazer (Ariel) is also a delight to watch and perfect as Ren’s love interest; her vocal ability carries many of the songs.
Robert Morgan (Willard) is a bit of a hidden gem in this production. During act one he isn't distinguished as a leading male, but as act two begins he really comes into his own. His number Mama Says is not only very funny, as intended, but it shows off his fabulous singing voice and is a stand-out moment in the show.
Set design by William Rye is kept to a minimum but still allows the company to move from scene to scene effectively. The different levels created by platforms work really well with a show such as Footloose. The overall look and feel is fun and bright with a few sparkles thrown in for good measure.
Photo: Jonny Faint