Grand Opera House, York
Showing until 3 August 2013
Reviewed by Nicola Cook
On Thursday, 1st August I visited the Grand Opera House in York to see Footloose. Even though this was an amateur production, performed by Stage Experience, this was far from obvious with professional and confident performances from all the main actors. Director Louise Denison completed rehearsals in just two weeks. She organised the large cast of over 50 young actors very well in this short period of time as the performance was brilliant.
The musical was adapted from the 1984 film, based on a true story. Ren McCormack (played by Ben Lancaster), a teenage boy moves to small town Bomont with his mother, but finds it difficult to settle. He soon finds out that the town has some extremely strict laws, including the outlaw of dancing due to a local tragedy in the town a few years earlier. The story follows Ren as he meets the locals, makes new friends and strives to change the law on dancing in order to allow a school dance to happen.
From the start of the show, the audience were greeted with spectacular singing and energetic choreography from the whole cast. The lead female Ariel, played by Sarah Watson, displayed a seamless performance, with excellent acting, singing and well-performed dance routines. Ariel worked well alongside Ren to draw the audience into the story. The performance was enhanced by comical interludes by Rusty (Lottie Henshall) and Willard Hewitt (Reece McMahon). Their characterisation was excellent and their interactions with other characters were amusing.
The variety of songs in the production were mostly performed to an exceptional standard that created an uplifting, feel-good atmosphere in the theatre. Despite the fast paced, well-choreographed dance routines, this did not impede on the quality of singing; a truly talented cast. To give one improvement; the first musical number of the show was not performed as well as the others. I felt that the singing was not quite as strong from some members of the cast and it was a little over-acted. However, this was clearly due to nerves as the rest of the performance was faultless.
Overall, I felt that Stage Experience performed a fantastic show, to a truly professional standard. I would definitely recommend it to friends!
Showing until 3 August 2013. For more information or to book tickets click here.