This production of Footloose saw the debut of well-known Canberra performer and choreographer, Jordan Kelly, as a director.
I enjoyed how he handled the show, bringing it into the present era in terms of costuming but still maintaining the feel of a small, mid-west American town. The mythical town of Bomont, where Footloose is set, has to be in the mid-west, and is definitely small.
The Footloose story is probably not the world’s greatest masterpiece, even if it is based on a real-life story from Oklahoma where dancing was indeed prohibited at a school in Elmore City. But its focus on restoring the right to dance within Bomont’s city limits makes for a show with plenty of potential for all the elements that go into musical theatre.
For me, the production sped along with generally solid performances from the cast. Ariel, the leading lady (played by Eliza Shepherd), carried the show with a strong performance from start to finish. Claudia Tetrault-Percy also stood out as one of Ariel’s friends, Rusty. But one can never underestimate the importance of small parts.
Alicia da Costa got her message across loud and clear in the cameo role of the proprietor of a hamburger joint, as she defused an argument that involved Ren, the leading man (played by Angus Murphy).
The sassy dancing, so essential to the development of the storyline, was enjoyable. Although there were differing standards of experience and technique among the dancing cast, each and every dancer looked as though he or she was having a ball and the enthusiasm came right into the auditorium and up to the back row.
As part of the dancing story, Willard, the boy who couldn’t dance (played by Anthony Simeonovic), had some great scenes with his mates and with his girlfriend Rusty. He also delivered some fine singing.
The multi-level set, which included two side platforms – one elevated and one at stage level – offered good opportunities to isolate different scenes.
I’m not sure, however, that the show needed to be as highly amplified as it was. There were times when it was hard to hear the lyrics above the musical ensemble, or the musical ensemble above the singing. But the Supa Productions version of Footloose was a really enjoyable show and a credit to the team behind it.
Written by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie. Music by Tom Snow and others. Lyrics by Pitchford and Kenny Loggins. Directed by Jordan Kelly. Supa Productions.
ANU Arts Centre. September 13 to 28. Tickets $35-$40. Bookings: 6257 1950 or see canberrarep.org.au. Dinner and show packages available from Teatro Vivaldi, on 6257 2718.