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

Footloose Review, November 2017 - Basingstoke Gazette

There is nothing quite like live theatre; you can see the film or watch television but the exuberance and enthusiasm of a young company performing live on stage is for me irresistible.

Basingstoke Amateur Theatrical Society has been delivering amazing musical productions for close on 60 years; it is their sixtieth anniversary next year and still the talented youngsters keep coming who are then supported in all departments by the more experienced BATS members. It is a magic formula which Basingstoke is rightly proud.

The story of Footloose revolves around the family of the Rev Shaw Moore played convincingly by Stephen Westwood, an experienced BATS actor with a good singing voice. Saddened by the death of his son and three friends, five years previously he manages to persuade the council to ban all dancing. His wife played by Sally Manning and daughter Ariel, Rhiannon Mone plead with him. Both parts require beautiful singing voices and Sally and Rhiannon are gloriously blessed.

This energetic production is directed and choreographed by Martyn Knight with Gary J. Myers as Assistant to the Director and there are many special moments to appreciate.   Still Rockin' with Cowboy Bob (BenWaines) and company was sheer joy because the performers themselves were obviously having such fun. The professional orchestra directed by Jules Dance were able to show their undoubted skills here but they were also able to tone everything right down for the outstandingly beautiful duet between (Sally Manning) and Ethel (Liz Scorey). 

Luke Sayers playing the 'bad boy' has a rich baritone voice and his performance of Dancing is not a Crime was a triumph. There were so many good voices on that stage and Rhiannon Mone and Luke Sayers duetting with Almost Paradise was so delightfully romantic. 

Jade Hollingshead as Rusty led an enthusiastic ensemble of dancers (they had three dance captains) and singers that will make you wish you could get up on stage and dance with them!

Hannah Williams

Footloose Review, November 2017 - What the Redhead Said

Last night a friend and I went to Haymarket in Basingstoke to see the Basingstoke Amateur Theatrical Society (BATS) production of Footloose. I love going to Haymarket to see shows. It’s nicely situated in Basingstoke town centre so easily accessible and great for making the show into a whole day or evening occasion with a meal or drinks beforehand.

I love the Footloose story and I am a huge fan of the original movie so I couldn’t wait to see how it translated to the stage. The show did have a couple of technical hitches early on – slight sound and mic issues – but the cast moved on from that swiftly and didn’t let it affect their performance. Also, we went to see the show on its opening night, which has a reduced ticket price, and where you typically expect slight hiccups.

The story is based in America and the cast all had to talk and sing with American accents. This seemed to take the some of the cast a couple of scenes to get into but by the end of the first half they all looked like they were really enjoying themselves and were so in character. The show followed the Footloose story perfectly and within a few scenes we had got to know the characters, really felt for them and were singing along with them too.

Footloose is, overall, such an uplifting and inspiring story with such friendship, team spirit and a real never give up vibe to it. The cast really brought that to life on stage and although it was put together and performed by the Basingstoke ‘Amateur’ Theatrical Society there really was nothing amateur about it. The acting and singing was spot on, the sets were simple but perfect, it was so well put together and we really enjoyed the show

By the end of Footloose the whole audience were dancing in their seats and singing along. There was an encore which was a medley of all the big songs from the show – so many I had forgotten were even in Footloose and it was a fantastic end to a really great show.

I have to give a special mention to Rhiannon Mone who played the leading lady, Ariel. She was fantastic – with a beautiful voice, an unfaltering American accent and played Ariel perfectly. There was nothing amateur about her at all and I’m sure she has a bright future on stage and screen ahead of her.

Footloose runs until 25th November at Haymarket with both evening and matinee performances. It’s a fantastic show and well worth the £23.50 ticket price. If you’re local, definitely go and see it.

Donna, originally published on her blog: what the Redhead said

We speak to Liam Brelsforth and Jade Hollingshead about their latest roles in Footloose

In real life they’re firm friends - but Liam Brelsforth and Jade Hollingshead are portraying a
rather more awkward relationship on stage in
Footloose - The Musical.

Jade Hollingshead and Liam Brelsforth

Jade Hollingshead and Liam Brelsforth

"I play Rusty, a confident High School girl,” says Jade. “But she gets tongue-tied whenever she’s near this boy called Willard, because she really fancies him!”

“And Willard has no idea Rusty fancies him,” says Liam of his character. “He’s a bit…slow…”

“Typecast!” laughs Jade.

Jade and Liam first met 7 years ago on the Performing Arts Course at Queen Mary’s College.

"As you can probably tell from that laugh, I heard Jade before I saw her" retorts Liam. “But we hit it off and now we’re best friends!” assures Jade.

Jade persuaded Liam to join BATS for Anything Goes in 2012. They’ve both played a variety
of roles in most shows since, including opposite each other as lovebirds Jan and Roger in
Grease. Both are loving Footloose.

“The songs are great,” enthuses Jade. “There’s Holding Out For A Hero, Almost Paradise and
my big number is Let’s Hear It For The Boy where we’re all line dancing. It’s really energetic
and I’ve got a massive note to reach at the end so I’ve got to be fit!”

And Liam’s biggest challenge in the show? “Trying to do press-ups in a dance routine set in
the gym. I just can’t do them!”

Both agree Footloose is a feelgood, upbeat show that will have audiences singing as they
leave the theatre. “If you liked the film you’ll love the musical!” promises Jade.

Footloose is at the Haymarket, Basingstoke from Wednesday 15th-Saturday 25th
November. Performances at 7.30pm with extra 2.30pm shows on Saturday 18th & 25th.

Tickets: £18.50 - £23.50 (adults) £15 (16s and under) - with concessions for students, over-
65s and groups. All prices include a booking fee.

Buy tickets: Call 01256 844244 or visit the Anvil Arts box office.

Luke Sayers talks about his first lead role with BATS

It’s the film that gave Kevin Bacon one of the most iconic roles of the ‘80’s.

Footloose follows teenage rebel Ren McCormack, who fights to bring rock music and
dancing back to the small town that’s banned them.

Luke Sayers - Palying Ren McCormack

Luke Sayers - Palying Ren McCormack

Now Footloose – the Musical is heading to the Haymarket in Basingstoke for the first time ever - and the performer inheriting Kevin Bacon’s attitude, dance moves and white vest/jeans combo is 19-year- old Luke Sayers from Oakley. But he’s got a confession.

“I never saw the whole film before auditioning! I think I watched maybe half of it before, but I didn’t really know it at all. I was persuaded to audition and I thought, “Oh well, I’ve got nothing to lose” – and here I am playing my first lead role for BATS!”

Since being cast Luke’s had to get up to speed fast!

“Ren is a troubled young man. His dad walked out so his mum has moved them from Chicago to this town in the middle of nowhere. He hates it as there’s no excitement and dancing is a crime! But he’s got a lot of passion, he’s very driven, and that causes conflict – especially with the priest who sees him as a big threat.”

With blistering dance routines, big songs and intense dramatic scenes, the energy on stage
doesn’t let up. But Luke says he’s prepared.

“I’ve been dancing ever since I joined the Basingstoke Tappers aged 4! I went on to other
local dance schools, before studying performing arts at Queen Mary’s College. I’ve just
started a foundation course at Kingsclere Performing Arts College, so at the moment my life
revolves around singing, dancing and acting!”

Luke says fans of Footloose the film won’t be disappointed. “I’m really excited to see the
audience reaction when we perform songs like Holding Out for A Hero, Let’s Hear It For The
Boy and Footloose of course. I hope they’ll be up and dancing!”

Luke Sayers in full swing during a rehearsal

Luke Sayers in full swing during a rehearsal

Sounds like the perfect feelgood night out? “It is! The whole company are working really
hard to make this a great show. We’re loving it – and I know audiences will too!”

Footloose is at the Haymarket, Basingstoke from Wednesday 15th-Saturday 25th
November. Performances at 7.30pm with extra 2.30pm shows on Saturday 18th & 25th.

Tickets: £18.50-£23.50 (adults) £15 (16s and under) - with concessions for students, over-
65s and groups. All prices include a booking fee.

Buy tickets: Call 01256 844244 or visit the Anvil Arts box office.

Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out