Footloose

Tara Watson

From the big screen to the small stage, Footloose is a fun night of guilty pleasure in a camp-fest filled of 80's dance nostalgia.
Footloose

Photo by Benjamin Fon.

Directed by Jordan Barr and produced by Chenez Dyer Bray Paevere, Old Carey Performing Arts Club's fifth full scale musical Footloose is a fun-filled trip two-stepping back to the 1980's.

Revisiting a well-loved tale of a conservative small town that prohibits rock music and dancing coming to a cross road when new kid in town Ren rocks the boat, opening minds and tempting feet to the dance floor.

Musical direction by Rosie Byth, working with music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford are well received, however mixing covers of popular songs with originals at times acts as an unflattering parallel, with some of the originals occasionally forgettable when paired with classic anthems such as 'Holding Out For a Hero', 'I'm Free' and 'Let's Hear it for the Boy'.

The exceptions to this are the sultry  'Somebody's Eyes', and touching 'Learning to be Silent', which were beautifully composed and worked seamlessly within the original screenplay.

Ren is an unconventional lead, shy and a bit dorky and Joseph Spanti plays the role amicably, exuding subtle cheekiness yet humbly dispositioned. In the first half Spanti was a bit too over-the-top animated, stepping on cues at times, but heading into act two he settles into the character and plays it well.

Shannen Alyce as Ariel is one to watch, near-perfect vocals paired with exuberant charm and immaculate dance skills meant it was difficult to take your eyes off her. Chemistry between Spanti and Alyce was apparent, most notably in duet 'Almost Paradise', however Alyce as Ariel often outshines the lead character of Ren.

The powerhouse vocals of the night belong to Ariel's best friend Rusty, played by Adriana Tascone, an experienced musical theatre actor whose voice shines and stuns in renditions of 'Let's Hear it for the Boy' and 'Somebody's Eyes', backed by vocalists Claire Reynolds and Ruby Voss. Warren Logan as lovable country larrikin Willard Hewitt is a pleasure to watch, an intelligent interpretation of the character, which can often come across as wooden.

The more experienced actors in senior roles performed a more nuanced approach to the often overly emotive style the majority of the ensemble employed. Geordie Worland as Reverend Shaw Moore and wife played by Elise Moorhouse commanded the stage in spades of professionalism and polish.

Choreography by Remy Noonan rang true to the daggy dance style roots of the 1980's, while first night jitters may have resulted in a few mistakes, and lapses in synchronization, this was largely forgotten due to the chaotic nature of the rock and roll themed dance numbers.

While the production has a far more contemporary feel then the film, in terms of its approach to women, and individual freedom and faith, it still appears out of step, at times over the top, flamboyant and campy. Nevertheless, still an enthusiastic energy-brimmed premiere, just in need of a softer touch in execution.

3 out of 5 stars

Footloose

Cast Adriana Tascone, Alex Hatzikostas, Andreas Katsiroubas, Benito Veneziano, Claire Reynolds, David Torr,  Elise Moorehouse, Erynn Christensen, Geordie Worland, James Watkinson, Joseph Spanti, Laura Vallence, Rebekah Walsh, Robert Shergold, Ruby Voss, Sammy Paulin, Shannen Alyce, Tom Kitt-Thompson & Warren Logan
Producer: Chenez Dyer Bray
Director: Jordan Barr
Musical Director: Rosie Byth

Old Carey Performing Arts Club
Carey Baptist Grammar School, Kew
13-20 September 2015 

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Tara Watson is a Melbourne journalist & artsHub writer. Follow her on Twitter @TarasWatson