Footloose : The Musical
By Shane Sanfilippo
Footloose : The Musical
The popular 1980s film Footloose (starring Kevin Bacon) comes to stage as Footloose : The Musical, by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie.
than two decades on since the film's release and a decade since it
opened on Broadway, Whitehorse Musical Theatre has taken on Footloose : The Musical with an interesting twist.
Like the film, Footloose : The Musical is set in the 1980s; however Director David Parsons made an admirable decision to set his Footloose in the 1950s.
doing so, Parson's succeeds in some way justifying the sometimes
unconvincing plot of the originbal and helps move it away from the
show's "jukebox" reputation.
Ren McCormack, (Drew Downing) is an
ordinary city kid. Following the desertion of his father, Ren and his
mother Ethel (Ruth Bishop) leave their home in Chicago for the small
rural town of Bomont.
After the tragic deaths of four teenagers,
Bomont’s town council, headed by Rev. Moore (David Gardette), has
banned dancing, on the basis that it leads to irresponsible and
The people of Bomont have adopted the new
rules, all except for Rev. Moore’s rebellious daughter, Ariel (Tori
Whiteside). Ariel also
"sticks it to daddy" by dating the baddest boy around, Chuck (Trent Bockman), however she soon comes to fall for Ren.
Despite his best attempts, Ren is branded a troublemaker by the Bomont community.
comes to befriend the dim-witted but well meaning Willard (Tyson Legg),
and decides that a town dance is exactly what Bomont needs.
takes Williard, Ariel, and Williard’s love interest Rusty (Diana
Perini) beyond the town border to experience dancing first hand. What
follows is the trio’s journey to change Bomont’s rules and attitude.
and his artistic team have done a fantastic job meeting the challenge
of delivering a comprehensive and consistent artistic vision.
huge strength of this production was its visual appeal. Costumes
(designed by John Azzopardi) were detailed and created a stylised 1950s
vibe complete with full skirts, tight skivvies and big glasses.
The use of purple in the school outfits is superb, and the overall design was set off by well coordinated wigs and hair design.
by Chris White were incredible: stylised and cohesive with the overall
kitsch artistic vision. A major highlight stemming from the use of
perspective, notably in the school locker setting and in the Moore
The numerous designs were works of art, using dimension
and colour well, with purple shades complementing the costume - the
huge train bridge, set behind the funky 50s convertible (Lance Harris /
David Parsons), a real standout.
The stage was framed well by
the atmospheric neon lights, a key element of the overall lighting
design by Brad Alcock and Vanessa Burke. The lighting was varied well
and the use of purple tones complemented the other stagecraft
There were few errors in sound, aside from the
occasional vocals and lines not being picked up, but in general the
vocals balanced well with the band.
One of the biggest
challenges must have been making a 1980s soundtrack fit the new vision,
and Musical Director Julia Buchanan generally did this well, supported
by the capable orchestra. The shift in eras may have affected the
outcome of some numbers, as I missed the expected soaring notes – such
as Almost Paradise that didn’t quite get there, although this may have been due to restrained vocals.
gave a commendable performance as Ren, with a controlled approach to
character that contrasted well with the more stylised characters in
1950s Bomont. Whiteside’s Ariel gave a feisty performance in pink boots
and really captured the rebel in the character.
portrayal of the character Willard was exceptional and one of the best
in the show. He sings effortlessly, and displayed perfect comic timing,
a joy to watch.
Rev. Moore is a tough role, with lots of songs
and a lot of anger. Yet David Gardette does an impressive job with a
great ability to convey both overbearing oppressor and loving father
figure. The intense scene between Rev.Moore and his wife Vi (Amy Clark)
towards the end of the show worked well.
featured a Greek chorus meets Ronnettes female trio, led by Perini’s
dynamic Rusty, with Urleen (Amy Burns) and Wendy Jo (Philippa Chalke).
The girls had a wardrobe of colour coordinated 50s frocks with a
They delivered some great lines; I thought the idea worked well particularly in the opening number and Somebody’s Eyes. The trio were strong singers and portrayed their distinct characters well.
Other show highlights include the standout Mama Says,
led by Legg. The combination of carnival style cutouts, an in sync male
dance ensemble and clever choreography ensured the show highlight.
Comito’s overall choreography was strong and brilliantly original. The
Act One finale choreography was a standout; I loved the use of skipping
ropes! Some scenes were not as well executed as others, the opening
number was a little crowded and quite a few people were bumping into
Overall, Whitehorse delivered a unique interpretation, highlighted by superb visuals and attention to detail.
"Footloose : The Musical"
Director: David Parsons
Choreography: Meriki Comito
Where: The Besen Centre, Burwood.