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Footloose Review, November 2017 - Newbury Weekly News

BATS’ best feet forward: Full-throttle musical with breath-taking choreography

The stage spin-off of the 1984 teen movie Footloose demands an exuberant, high-energy performance from start to finish and BATS’ hugely talented cast certainly obliged on all fronts.  This was BATS full-throttle with bells on.  Strong principals and a rock-solid ensemble ensured we were in for a treat.

Luke Sayers delivered in every respect in the large role of Ren, the snake-hipped Chicago boy exiled to small-town Bomont where booze, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are banned.  All Bomont boogie-woogie had been illegal since four kids died in a car crash on their way back from a dance.

Rhiannon Mone excelled, depicting the feisty and rebellious Ariel, daughter of the Reverend Shaw Moore, where in this role, Stephen Westwood was in fine voice.

The three ‘commentators’ Rusy (Jade Hollingshead), Arleen (Lusannsa Goodman) and Wendy Jo (Holly Reedman) absolutely nailed it, with brilliant harmonies and dance, Hollingshead giving a particularly stand-out performance.

Liam Brelsforth was terrific in his character of Willard, bringing out the humour of the character and Craig Saunders delivered strongly as bad boy Chuck Cranston.  Sally Manning sang beautifully as Vi Moore, and her duet with Ren’s mother, played by Liz Scorey, was a delightful, poignant moment.

Director and choreographer Martyn Knight is to be truly congratulated on his direction and breath-taking choreography.  It was incredibly delivered with a slickness that must have taken much rehearsal.  I did not see a single foot put wrong, even on the first night.

Lighting was stunning and the band, under musical director, Julie Dance, offered tight and crisp accompaniment, if a little on the minimal side.  Sometimes the voices in the large musical numbers overpowered them.  Having said that, the production was full-throttle, there were a few numbers where I felt they could have taken their foot off the gas to provide a little variation and a sweeter sound – when you start so big you’ve nowhere to go.

But to capt it off, the Everybody Cut Loose closing montage was infectious, irresistible fun – a stellar, foot-stamping send-off to another superb BATS production.

Trevor Dobson