Stage adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie. Based on the original screenplay by Dean Pitchford. Music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford. Additional music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins nd Jim Steinman. Directed by Anthony Swadling. Musical direction by Jenna Hinton. Choreography and assistant direction by Rachel Thornton. Manager David Tricks. Stage Manager Rachel Laloz. Repetiteur Brigid Cummins. Costume design Rhiannon de Margheriti. Set design Steve Galinec and Anita Davenport. Lighting design Jacob Aquilina (Eclipse) Sound design Kyle Maley (Eclipse) Properties Master Helen McIntyre. Queanbeyan Players. The Q. Queanbeyan and Palerang Performing Arts Centre. June 23 – July 3 2023. Bookings 62856290.
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins.
Footloose is your quintessential American musical. It’s a triple threat explosion of acting, singing and dancing and Queanbeyan Players’ large ensemble of youthful talent give it everything they’ve got. From the opening number Footloose Rachel Thornton’s lively choreography leaves no doubt that Footloose the Musical is a celebration of dance with Jenna Hinton’s musical direction of her ter5rific band and pit singers pushing up the pulse and getting Anthony Swadling’s production off to a foot tapping , heart thumping start.
Even the plot is a snapshot of rural, bible bashing America. Ren (a charismatic performance by Luke Ferdinands) and his mother Ethel (Hayley Calderwood) are forced to move to the small Midwest town of Bomont after Ren’s father abandons them. Town preacher Reverend Shaw More ( a performance of great gravitas from Pat Gallagher) has banned dancing after his son died in a car accident after a night of carousing and rock ‘n roll. His daughter Ariel (Sammy Marceddo) is the teen rebel in a relationship with the town delinquent Chuck Cranston (Zac Izzard) and Ren is treated as the outsider until he befriends hic cowboy Willard Hewitt ( a wonderfully comic performance by Jonathan Whinfield) and strikes up a relationship with Ariel setting the scene for rivalry with the belligerent Chuck. Writer Pitchford’s themes strike a familiar chord. Footloose exposes the generation gap and family disputes. There is the xenophobic regard of the newcomer and the strong hold that religion has on the townsfolk. But it is the power of transformation that can ultimately win the day and with a score by Tom Snow that can have your heart thumping with rock combo force (Still Rocking) or melting with Ariel and Ren’s duet Almost Paradise Queanbeyan Players’ production takes you on a rollercoaster ride of bursting energy and tear dropping sentiment. Director Swadling assisted by Jacob Aquilina’s vivid lighting design keeps the action fluid and cast and creatives sweep you along through a plot that is familiar but a production that is uplifting and entertaining. The combination of direction, musical direction and choreography lend this production a professional gloss that is celebrated in the performance of every member of this highly talented and enthusiastic cast.
Too many to mention, principals and chorus capture the authentic flavour of the townsfolk of Bomont. There are excellent performances from Ariel’s girlfriends played with backing singer chicness by Emily Pogson and Kay Liddiard with Kara Murphy (Let’s Hear It For the Boy) . Kara Murphy also portrays a likeable innocence in her performance as Willett’s love interest Rusty and Sarah Hull’s Vi (Can You Find It In Your Heart) is totally convincing as Ariel’s mother. There is the no frills, tell it like it is roughness in Sarah Powell’s Bar Owner, Betty.
You’ll be hard pushed to stay still in your seat at this pumped up gotta dance musical and you’ll still be rocking to the songs and the company numbers as you leave the theatre. You’ll laugh. You’ll shed a tear and you’ll have a fun night out if you are lucky enough to get your feet down to The Q to see Queanbeyan Players’ production of Footloose.