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August 25 2019, David Beach Youth Competition Reviews

The 1984 film Footloose starring Kevin Bacon propelled a number of relative unknowns into the Hollywood firmament and, as is the wont of such films, spawned a musical version 14 years later. As the film was, essentially, a vehicle for drama and dance, several new songs were written by Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford to turn it into a full blown musical. Three well known songs from the film, the eponymous Footloose, Let’s hear it for the Boy and Holding out for a Hero have been smash hits in their own right, and favourite Karaoke numbers, and give the audience that warm feeling of familiarity that helps get them in the right mood to enjoy the evening and the large audience for the first night of the run were clearly in that mood.

The annual Tri.Art summer festival allows the Director, in this case, Claudia Pepler and Choreographer Amy Maughan the luxury of intensive rehearsals for two weeks. As someone who has experienced this style of production as an actor, I can attest that it works. Rehearsing once or twice a week for several months, which is the usual style of amateur companies, makes the learning process more difficult as you try to remember what you last did three or four weeks ago. The result was a high energy song and dance spectacular in which all cast members gave of their best.

The seven piece band, positioned in the wings, sounded good under the direction of Joseph Church and were well balanced with the performers, although I did find the sound quality a little shrill at times. Singing was well coached and enunciation was good. It was gratifying to see that Stage Manager Georgia Paget and Dylan Lee at the lighting desk were 18 or under.

Fin Collinson as the pivotal character Ren and Holly Fleetwood as Ariel provided the main love interest and produced the right amount of humour and drama from their roles, ably assisted by Georgia Ashford Miller and Livia Selby as Wendy Jo and Urleen. Emma Aspray as Rusty gave an energetic and well sung rendition of Let’s hear it for the Boy and demonstrated her feelings for Willard, played with excellent timing by Dillon Berry: Mama Says was, for me, the stand-out number of the show with all the boys entering into the spirit of the occasion.

Confusingly my programme does not credit Chuck Cranston so I can only say that he was played with appropriate chauvinism and his sidekicks Travis and Lyle backed him up well, until abandoning him in favour of dancing (losers!).

It is not easy for teenagers to portray adults, but George Plant, with a pleasant baritone voice, gave a mature performance as Shaw Moore and Emma Golay as Vi Moore, with some excellent acting and singing, stood out as performers.

Everyone on stage was clearly enjoying themselves and the many small roles each enhanced the show. Thanks for inviting me and I hope you’ll all be back for more.

Chris Bailward

Moderator, David Beach Youth