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Greater London
posted/updated: 04 Oct 2012 - edit review / upload photos
Music by Tom Snow, lyrics by Dean Pitchford (with additional lyrics by Kenny Loggins), book by Dean Pitchford & Walter Bobbie
society/company: Cygnet Players (directory)
performance date: 29 Sep 2012
venue: Putney Arts Theatre, Ravenna Road, Putney, London, SW15 6AW
reviewer/s: Steve Rikard (Sardines review)

The stage adaptation of Footloose tells the story of rebellious teenager Ren McCormack, having to move away from the hustle and bustle of Chicago into a small American village. Ren has trouble adjusting to the small town ways, in particular their law banning dancing. Being a self minded teenager Ren attracts trouble, and ends up fighting against authority in this case the local preacher Rev Moore who is set on controlling the towns youths. Ren and Rev Moore have more in common than first meets the eye and eventually this out of town misfit is able to teach the town to move on from past issues and let the youth of today express themselves by lifting the ban on dancing.
Ok, agreed Footloose isn’t a thriller of story and it’s no easy show for an amateur theatre company to put on. It demands great vocals to belt out those 80’s classics, strong acting and above all rhythm and style for those killer dance moves and Cygnet players largely pulled it off.

A huge success was the vocals, as a cast there was some spectacular singing which really got the audience rocking, in particular Holding Out for a Hero, Let's Hear It for the Boy and of course Footloose.

The whole cast was excellent with an abundance of talent on show. Adam Walker who played the central character of Ren McCormack impressed with his vocal ability and managed to pull off his dance numbers of I Can't Stand Still and Dancing is Not a Crime. Although at times he did come across slightly awkward, his very difficult final speech with Rev Moore was delivered superbly. Frances Leak playing the Reverends mischievous daughter Ariel, was an equally impressive vocalist, with strong dancing and acting to deliver a polished performance.

I have to split my top praise between Katy Goddard (Rusty) and Tom Cane (Willard). This couple really stole the show. Katy is a pocket rocket with top dance moves and simply outstanding vocals which were made to belt out 80’s classics. Tom was born to perform, he pitched the character perfectly, using his comic timing, good voice and yes even his dance moves – which are better than he likes to let on!

I don’t like to criticise, but unfortunately Jonny Clines was unconvincing as Rev Moore. Rev Moore needs to be Ren’s equal; with his great charisma he has convinced this town to follow his way. Being a pivotal role in the show at times the plot therefore suffered. Aldo being the only cast member to speak with a perfectly British accent really grated.

Mentions have to go to Nicola Roscoe who has a lovely voice and played Vi Moore convincingly, Kate Spoer (Urleen) and Becky Robertson (Wendy Jo) who were great in the girls gang, and Rich Gladwell (Chuck) who I wished had more to do in the show.

I have to praise Director Matthew Eberhard who produced some excellent staging, making the most out of a difficult show. James Beal, Musical Director, did a great job bringing the 80’s back to life, although the balance of his band did at times overpower the vocals. Choreographer Della Bhujoo must be commended for pulling together some great routines with a cast who don’t have years of dance training and daily eight hour rehearsals, but one could sight that a mix of more simple dance moves can be used effectively.

Overall it was a very enjoyable production, performed to a high standard. Congratulations Cygnet Players, you deserve a well earned rest before rousing audiences again with Sweet Charity.

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