Anthony Swadling – Choreography and Assistant Direction by Rachel Thornton
Direction by Jenna Hinton – Set designed by Steve Galinec & Anita Davenport
designed by Rhiannon De Margheriti – Sound designed by Kyle Maley
Designed by Jacob Aquilina.
Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre June 23 – July 2, 2023.
Night performance on June 23rd reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.
Based on a
1984 film of the same name, the professional production of “Footloose” was not
a commercial success when first produced in Australia. However over the years the
show has been embraced by community groups largely because the storyline about
generational tensions contains meaty roles for a range of age types. It has a
score with catchy tunes, and requires a large ensemble of young performers able
to execute the many dance routines integral to the story. All of which made it
a perfect choice for Queanbeyan Players.
production of “Footloose” has been an obvious passion project for Director
Anthony Swadling, Choreographer, Rachel Thornton and Musical Director, Jenna
Hinton. Together they’ve successfully harnessed the talents and enthusiasm of a
large, carefully chosen cast of performers with the skills of a team of
talented technical creatives, to produce an entertaining, effervescent, even at
times unexpectedly touching, evening of musical theatre.
storyline of “Footloose” revolves around a young man, Ren, who with his mother
takes up residence in a small American town where dancing and loud music have
been forbidden by the town’s conservative council. Ren’s decision to challenge
this law brings him into conflict with the local minister, who happens to be
the father of Ariel, to whom Ren is attracted.
|Luke Ferdinands (Ren) and Sammy Marceddo (Ariel) in "Footloose"
talented cast, Luke Ferdinands is outstanding as Ren. A talented actor with a
fine singing voice and the ability to really ‘sell’ the song, his spectacular
rendition of “I Can’t Stand Still” with its killer final note, drew cheers from
the first night audience and set the tone for the rest of the evening. Matching
Ferdinands, as the wilful preacher’s daughter, Ariel, Sammy Marceddo also
impressed with her strong dramatic performance and excellent vocals. Their
duet, “Almost Paradise”, cleverly staged on staircases manipulated by the cast,
provided just one of many vocal highlights.
not only sings well but knows how to capture the laughs as Ren’s friend,
Willard, while Kara Murphy, Kay Liddiard and Emily Pogson as Ariel’s
girlfriends all contribute strong vocal and comedic support.
|Kara Murphy (Rusty) - Kay Liddiard (Wendy Jo) - Emily Pogson (Urleen) - Sammy Marceddo (Ariel)
Gallagher brings dramatic heft and a fine singing voice to his pivotal role as
Rev. Shaw Moore. His teaming with Sarah Hull, quite lovely in a gracefully
sustained performance as his gentle, caring wife, Vi, provides a thoughtful
dramatic counterpoint among the otherwise exuberant activity.
|Pat Gallagher (Rev. Shaw Moore) - Sarah Hull (Vi Moore) in "Footloose"
Izzard as the town bully, Chuck, Andrew Finegan as both Principal Clark and
Cowboy Bob, David Gambrill as Coach Dunbar, and Sarah Powell as both Eleanor
and Betty, contribute scene-stealing dramatic and comedic highlights.
in this production is the quality of the singing throughout from both ensemble
and the soloists. Supported by Jenna Hinton’s fine rock combo band and a sextet
of pit singers, the harmonies achieved by the ensemble are quite thrilling,
indicating hours of attentive rehearsal.
Rachel Thornton’s inventive choreography, executed by each member of the large
ensemble with a gusto that convinced they were having their best time, provided
authenticity and spectacle for the many large production numbers made possible
by the spacious set design by Steve Galinec and Anita Davenport.
Despite a couple of unfortunate costume choices, some missed sound cues on opening night, and some hesitation executing Anthony Swadling’s clever scene transitions, all of which will no doubt be corrected, “Footloose” will take its place among some of the Queanbeyan Players most successful productions.
However, if you haven’t
secured your tickets you will have missed out seeing it, because remarkably,
tickets for all performances were sold out before the show even opened.
Photos by Ben Appleton - Photox Canberra
This review first published in the Digital Edition of CITY NEWS on 24th June 2023.