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Footloose - The Musical
Member Name: zoe_page_1
Footloose - The Musical
Advantages: Fantastic staging of a great show
Disadvantages: The leading lady blatantly out - shone her leading man
I walked out of the theatre having seen Footloose wishing I could go straight back in and watch it again. If you were after a quickie summary of the show, thatís it. Itís good. Really good.
When I danced, back in the day, I did numerous ballets and musicals, but Footloose is always a fond memory for me because it was the last one I did before I quit dancing to, um, ace my A Levels. The only version I knew apart from ours was the Kevin Bacon film one, so when I heard the stage musical was touring the UK, I immediately logged on and got a ticket.
A gas station. A church. A school gym. Theyíre not the most normal of settings for a musical, but they all crop up here. The storyís a well known one Ė slick city guy moves from Chicago to a little place in the middle of nowhere, and is frustrated by the townís rules imposed by the minister Ė no singing, no dancing - no having fun really. Getting some of the local kids on his side, he vows to change this and starts by wooing the ministerís daughter. Not such a good idea, when itís her father whoís in charge here, now is it? Fights break out, words are said and people are hurt, but in the end, something miraculous happens, and both sides come to some agreement. Itís a typical B-list musical, and I call it this because itís one only usually watched by dedicated musical viewers Ė not the Cats or Lion King families go to once a year so they can smugly rattle on about how cultured they are for the next 364 days. It has songs people know Ė thanks in part to Texaco adverts unless Iím much mistaken Ė and songs people donít. The storyline is usually vaguely familiar to the audience, though most canít recall the details. In short, itís a show you know you want to see in many cases, without actually knowing what youíll be seeing when you get there.
Thereís a line in the film where the ministerís wife tells her husband that heís great at group sermons, but itís the one-on-one ones that could use some work, and I think the same is true for the numbers in this film. The ones with a large chunk of the cast singing and dancing together Ė Footloose, Holding Out For a Hero and Letís Hear It For The Boy - were fantastic. Lively, beautifully costumed, well choreographed and full of energy. The solos and duets, less so. Some of the performers had great voices, but something about the lead guy just wasnít right. He was loud enough, I suppose, and could carry a tune, but seemed to fall down when it came to enunciating. This meant that it was all but impossible to make out the words of the (usually less well known) songs he sang alone. The lead girl, on the other hand, was great Ė adorable, clearly spoken and with an annoyingly good voice. The remaining cast were fine verging on good, though the American accents faded from time to time (but interestingly less so when it came to the non-Brits among the cast). One poor guy had obviously been given the role of gymnast among a very non-acrobatic group, and was cavorting around the stage during the last few numbers, displaying abysmal back-flips that worryingly got quite loud rounds of applause. The casting was quite odd Ė the show includes a high school senior class (6th form aged) and some parents and teachers, though the age gap between the two groups was no where near approaching a generation. Now itís understandable that theyíd have 25 year olds playing teenagers, but it did surprise me they hadnít seemed to have gone for anyone in the 40 plus age group to play their parental figures.
The dances were well-choreographed without being extremely technical, though I suppose they need all the help they can get Ė the way theyíre doing the shows here, thereís a 5pm matinee rather than the usual 2:30 one, and this is followed by an 8pm evening show, giving the hard-working lot a mere 30mins in between to catch their breath. I know Iím nit-picking, but in a way itís only because the show was so good. Since that can be summed up in one sentence, or even a couple of words (See it!) I kinda have to talk about the different parts of it. And since Iím doing that, I have to be truthful about the way I saw thingsÖ
The stage crew did a great job because there seemed to be more prop and scenery changes than costume ones. The furniture they brought on was minimal each time, but still managed to set the scene of the, um, scene. The school hall in the last scene was especially well done, with row after row of enchanting fairy lights lighting the stage. The last musical I saw, Fosse, had cool black costumes all the way through. Not so with this one, which had the cast in colourful getups, from casual school clothes to party dresses. No 2 performers ever had the same attire, but there were very definite themes in most of the numbers, which looked really good on stage.
The show is touring the UK at the moment. Tickets cost from £7, programmes are £3 and ice-creams £2, at least where we are (though Iíve a growing suspicion those latter two will always add up to a fiver these days, no matter where you are). The show was 2 Ĺ hours long, 20 mins of which was an interval. The first half had 9 numbers, the second 7, and both had short spurts of dialogue linking the routines together, though the focus was very definitely on singing and dancing, rather than narrative. My favourite bit was the ending where they performed an encore style medley of the best songs from the show, with both my favourites among them.
All in all, a top show. Go see. Go on. Right now.
Summary: How musicals are meant to be
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