Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

How to Wow An Audience


WMC , Wales Millennium Centre , January 10, 2006
Footloose by WMC Review of "Footloose": Mark Goucher, Michael Rose, Tristan Baker and Jason Haigh-Ellery

08700 40 2000 get on the phone, ring that number, book your ticket, donít miss this fantastic explosion of a great musical! You wonít just come out dancing, your heart will be lifted and your head will stay full of joy for weeks after. This is a show that really does impress. The superb music lashes your body. Right from the start you will feel the beat pulsing inside you. But this is much more than just a rock and roll show. Itís a top rate piece of musical theatre, these people know exactly what they are doing and how to wow an audience.

Itís not without its quiet moments, equally compelling and convincing. Cheryl Baker, here as a mom, the reverendís wife is a fine actress and her great singing voice has lost none of that Bucks Fizz verve. Footloose is Renís story and of course he gets the girl in the end Cheryl Bakerís daughter, Ariel. Sheís played with such dynamism by Lorna Want, like no vicarís daughter youíre ever likely to meet!

Ren, a teenager has left the bright lights of Chicago with his mother, after his father has walked out on them, to find a new life in the quiet town of Beaumont in Texas. There everything, especially the opportunity for young people to enjoy themselves is very limited. The Reverend and the School Principal have a tight hold on it all. Ren sets out to change things; as he succeeds, he is eventually no longer regarded as a troublemaker but a very fine young man and an asset to the community, but donít let that fool you, his great zest for life is in no way diminished. Derek Hough, who plays Ren, is an even more larger than life figure, acting, dancing and singing with a panache and charm that has us and all the girls on stage eating out of his hand.

And heís not alone, every member of this great ensemble is giving well over 100% and having a great time giving it. Come the end even the oldies, along with the whole full WMC auditorium are signing, dancing and clapping Ė itís a great party Ė not to be missed. Emmerdale favourite Stephen McGann as the killjoy reverend handles the drama and the slower numbers with great conviction. Giovanni Spano as the wimp who canít quite make it with the girls gives a delightfully observed performance and once Ren has sorted him out finds that spirited energy that is one of the strong points of the show. Heís equalled in every way by Stevie Tate-Bauer as Rusty, his long-suffering girl friend, another absolute joy to watch.

By far the greatest energy and high spirits comes from the chorus numbers with the whole cast singing and dancing with a vigour and pace that is quite outstanding. But all of Footloose is outstanding, director/choreographer, Karen Bruce works with an expertise, sensitivity and good humour rarely seen in musical theatre. The construction of the show by writers Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie is perfectly thought through. Musical Director, Stephen Owens drives everything along at the perfect pace. Set by Morgan Large and costumes by Andy Edward are absolutely spot-on. But the greatest technical credits must go the lighting and sound guys, James Whiteside and Orbitalís Gareth Owen. They make all the wonderful characters in the show much clearer to see than in any previous musical at this theatre. And they are worth seeing with their faces bursting with happiness. They certainly have a lot to be happy about but by golly they all work damn hard for it. The clarity of the speaking and singing was also quite exceptional. All in all the whole evening was quite exceptional, a fine example of what the Wales Millennium Centre was built for.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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