Review: Southey Musical Theatre Company rocks in Footloose

Supportive spectators needed little prompting to “tear up this town” in the finale of feelgood show Footloose.

They were on their feet bopping along to the beats, which given the steep incline of the balcony at Sheffield’s Montgomery Theatre was a tad alarming.

Footloose  The Musical performed by Southey Musical Theatre Company

Footloose The Musical performed by Southey Musical Theatre Company

Motivation certainly wasn’t lacking on the opening night of Southey Musical Theatre Company’s production of Footloose The Musical, emanating from the stage like a tidal wave to sweep everyone along in its path.

Finer displays of dancing would be hard to find - the routines were inventive, lively and as tight as a drum, reflecting the hard work of choreographer Aggie Gryszel, dance captain Hayley Twigg and a cast which looked born to perform boot scootin’ boogie.

A pounding soundtrack, played by a six-strong band under musical director Steve Myers, was as infectious as the dancing. It was occasionally too loud at the opening performance last night making it hard to hear vocals and spoken word but I’m sure the balance will be adjusted before the final performance on Saturday, May 3.

The show’s three well-known songs - Footloose, Holding Out For A Hero and Let’s Hear It For The Boy - were well performed by a capable cast who threw themselves into the task with gusto.

Top-class characterisation really brought home the sense of a God-fearing small town in America governed by petty bureaucrats and populated by bored teenagers running wild.

A triumphant first night for Richard Granger, in the lead role of Ren, looking every inch the wholesome American hero whose winning smile and impassioned speeches disarmed rebellious teenagers and intransigent officials.

Katie Mather shone as his leading lady Ariel, a foxy free spirit with a passion for bad boys and a wild side which her preacher dad could not tame.

Great performances from Jessica Curr playing Ariel’s best buddy Rusty, Matt Bevan as the leading lady’s violent boyfriend Chuck, Richard Bevan and Viv Siberry-Scott as the preacher and his wife, all offering rock-solid support to the leads.

Simple staging saw a burger bar sign, corrugated metal fencing and a wall of the preacher’s home drop down from the ceiling.

A show of slides (one of which was upside down and back to front last night) depicted the faces of smiling teenagers whose deaths in a car crash set the scene for the Footloose storyline about a community which banned dancing until a young saviour arrives to get the town rocking again.