Web Wombat - the original Australian search engine
You are here: Home / Entertainment / Theatre / Reviews / Footloose : The Musical : Whitehorse Musical Theatre
Entertainment Menu
Latest Movie Reviews
Premium Links
Web Wombat Search
Advanced Search
Submit a Site
Search 30 million+ Australian web pages:
Try out our new Web Wombat advanced search (click here)

Footloose : The Musical

By Shane Sanfilippo

footloose the musical

Footloose : The Musical

footloose the musical

The popular 1980s film Footloose (starring Kevin Bacon) comes to stage as Footloose : The Musical, by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie.

More 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.

In 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 dangerous behaviour.

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.

He comes to befriend the dim-witted but well meaning Willard (Tyson Legg), and decides that a town dance is exactly what Bomont needs.

Ren 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.

Parsons and his artistic team have done a fantastic job meeting the challenge of delivering a comprehensive and consistent artistic vision.

A 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.

Settings 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 home.

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 beautifully.

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.

Downing 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.

Tyson Legg’s 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.

Parson’s Footloose 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 glamorous edge.

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.

Meriki 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 each other.

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.
Bookings: www.footlooseatwhitehorse.com.au

Shopping for...
Visit The Mall


Home | About Us | Advertise | Submit Site | Contact Us | Privacy | Terms of Use | Hot Links | OnlineNewspapers

Copyright © 1995-2016 WebWombat Pty Ltd. All rights reserved