'Footloose The Musical', at the Cambridge Arts Theatre this week, is a feel-good triumph
PUBLISHED: 09:16 05 April 2016 | UPDATED: 09:16 05 April 2016
As the audience files in a pair of ladies near the front row are visibly dressed in cowgirl outfits - complete with brown hats and check shirts. We're at 'Footloose' that's for sure.
With a minimal backdrop of Chicago and a clothes rail hung with 80s ensembles, jazz music forms the interlude over pre-show chatter.
The action quickly moves to little known Bomont, West Virginia, where dancing - and pretty much all forms of fun - have been banned following a much talked about car accident, leaving the town’s teenagers struggling to enjoy their surroundings.
Singing into hairbrushes and rollerskating around American diners are just some of the touches that make it flourish like the classic film.
As an unexpected added bonus, as well as acting and dancing, the majority of the cast play their own instruments: including saxophones, guitars, flutes, clarinets and cellos. The show’s conductor also happens to be the drummer throughout the performance.
Gareth Gates, originally of Pop Idol fame back in 2001, shines as hillbilly, tooth-pick-chewing Willard, who goes shy in front of the ladies, unable to put together a comprehensible sentence but is a real loveable softie at heart.
The second star turn is Maureen Nolan, of the Nolan Sisters, playing the preacher’s wife, Vi. Her voice proves remarkable during a number of musical numbers - especially ‘Learning To Be Silent’ and ‘Can You Find It In Your Heart?’
The second act is a lot more emotional, pulling on the theatre’s heartstrings. At first following the friends as they go out of town to Bar-B-Q for a dance, Ren later faces the town council in an attempt to change the law.
A final medley including ‘Footloose’, at least twice, gets people on their feet and clapping along as each cast member takes centre stage for their farewell moment; before all disappearing behind the curtain for one final party.
Full of feel-good fun and laughs with songs to sing along to and well-choreographed dance routines, ‘Footloose’ bridges the gap between Glee and Grease, certifying it as a real musical triumph.
‘Footloose The Musical’ is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre tonight through to Saturday (April 9); 2.30pm and 7.45pm performances; tickets from www.cambridgeartstheatre.com