Footloose, at Merlin Theatre, Frome

AFTER last year’s sensational In the Heights – probably the best youth theatre show I have ever seen – had a hard act to follow for the 2019 summer musical.

The choice was Footloose, based on the 1984 film. It’s the story of Chicago boy Ren who moves with his abandoned mother to live in the country town of Bomont. He quickly discovers that the town has banned dancing, led by the local preacher who is grieving for a son killed five years earlier on the way home from a dance.

The excellent seven-strong band is visible on stage throughout, under their MD Joseph Church. Claudia Pepler directs with her usual verve and imagination, and Amy Maughan is in charge of the spectacular choreography.

It is extraordinary what a group of talented and dedicated young performers, creative team and back-stage crew can achieve in such a short time, and every one, on and off stage, should be proud of the end result.

Fin Collinson catches the aggression that hides misery as the misfit Ren,  with Dillon Berry as Willard, a slow boy whose two left feet take wings under a bit of caring tuition.

Holly Fleetwood is the feisty Ariel, much criticised daughter of the minister, and Emma Aspray belts out her songs as the love-struck Rusty.  George Plant shows there is much more to Rev Shaw Moore than a cardboard cut-out preacher man.

Footloose is a perfect play for a teenage cast, providing opportunities for song and dance in a variety of genres and everyone has a chance to make her and his mark on the audience.

What next,


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