Naomi MacKay kicked off her Sunday shoes and cut loose to Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre for this week’s show – Footloose, starring Jake Quickenden and Darren Day.
When I go to any musical theatre show, I always marvel at how hard the cast must work – not only do they have to sing, but they have to act – not only do they have to act, but they must dance, too. And for the energetic cast of Footloose, they add a fourth string to their bow – as most of them play an instrument too! Whether it’s playing guitar while dancing, or accompanying the slower songs on wind instruments and keyboard, this fabulous young cast really earn their money!
And yet, they have boundless energy – at the end of the show, they encouraged the audience to join in with the party – clapping and singing and dancing – and it felt, after the second, third, maybe fourth encore – that they were having such a great time they didn’t really want to go home!
Of course that is infectious, and I certainly left the theatre feeling upbeat and like I’d been to a fun party.
The story of Footloose will be familiar from the Kevin Bacon film (let’s pretend it wasn’t showing in cinemas nearly 40 years ago, or we’ll all have to admit how old we are!). When teenager Ren arrives in a small town, he finds that they aren’t keen to accept the kid from the big city – and he’s astounded to learn that dancing is banned.
Joined by his fellow senior classmates, he pitches himself against the Rev. Moore (played by West End Theatre veteran and TV personality Darren Day) and the town council, to let the teengaers enjoy a school dance. Along the way, he of course falls in love with a pretty, headstrong girl (played beautifully by Lucy Munden), and makes friends with the kind-hearted Wirrell, who of course has two left feet.
There’s a real joie de vivre about the cast. Jake Quickenden quickly won over the audience as the not-so-bright Willard – he may have started his showbiz career as a singer on The X-Factor, but proved on stage that he is a great comedian. Ren (Joshua Hawkins) was just full of cheek and so much teenage energy, as he came up against his uncle, teachers – in fact pretty much everyone.
It’s quite a small cast, which means they work hard the whole time, but their joy and enthusiasm is infectious. There’s some creative choreography – using everything from truck tyres to oily rags – and the big numbers really make their mark.
Finally, there are some fabulous gold shorts that make their appearance just before the interval – it’s worth going for those alone!
Footloose is showing at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre until Saturday 14 May – book your tickets at www.atgtickets.com/shows/footloose/aylesbury-waterside-theatre