I’ve been spending a lot of time at Storyhouse since it opened its doors in May this year. Of all the bookings, Footloose was my wildcard, my late night, why not booking. I thought it would be a fun, lively musical to drag my husband to (he’s not usually a fan of all the singing) and I had my 80s hat on after a themed birthday party last month.
We headed over early – it gave us an opportunity to check out the library and weigh up the merits of the multi-functioning space; books-meets-wine-meets-animated conversation. It works for me, happy to see all three of those things mingle, but I doubt anyone seeking a quiet space to study hard in would feel the same (take headphones if you can work to music).
The friendly staff are all over the place, on the look out for the lost and confused and helped us to our seats, which were great (despite grabbing them last minute). The theatre is thoughtfully designed in gradients, so that all seats provide a clear view of the stage and make you feel close to the action.
The tickets were expensive (about £37 a pop) but perhaps that’s something to get used to. Footloose (and many other upcoming productions) is a nationally touring show, and they tend to cost a pretty penny wherever you see them (and are often worth it). There’s plenty else on offer from Storyhouse, and some of it’s completely free.
Full disclosure, I’ve not seen the film the musical is based on, but understood the gist – dancing wins the day. And true to form the dancing was pretty top notch. The stage is quite small, restricting the cast to a degree, but they made the best of it. The real emphasis was placed on the acting and singing (both wonderful). Maureen Nolan has a stunning voice. Loves young dream (played by Hannah Price and Joshua Dowen) belted out Disney worthy harmonies – their voices melded together and gave me goosebumps.
The only tiny things that let this show down for me was the odd accent slip (I’m not saying it’s easy to consistently produce a West Virginia accent), and a slightly anti-climatic ending. I was expecting some killer dance moves, or at least a new, well known 80s number to bring down the curtain. But the show ended on a medley of songs performed earlier (yes, still well sang and choreographed, but done all the same).
Gareth Gates was meant to be part of the cast, but couldn’t make it to Chester for some reason. The role of Willard was taken up by Dominic Gee Burch. Luckily, I didn’t go for Gareth.
The audience were onboard throughout, and madly clapped the cast. Well deserved indeed – they ran around all night skipping between delivering the plot and playing instruments along with the songs – a truly talented bunch indeed.