Footloose, The Hawth - review

The cast of Footloose. Picture by Stephen Candy
The cast of Footloose. Picture by Stephen Candy

Crawley Operatic Society have a reputation of putting on big, entertaining productions.

And their latest effort - Footloose - is no exception. A packed audience at the Hawth were dancing in their seats to familiar tunes from the well known show.

Footloose. Picture by Stephen Candy

Footloose. Picture by Stephen Candy

Kevin Bacon hit our screens in the iconic 1984 film before it was made into a stage musical in 1998. And if you don't know the plot - here goes!

When Ren (Alex Hopkins) and his mother (Beccy Cowland) move from Chicago to a small farming town, Ren is prepared for the inevitable adjustment period at his new high school.

What he isn't prepared for are the local laws, including a ban on dancing instituted by local preacher Rev Shaw Moore (Andrew Cornell), determined to exercise the control over the town's youth that he cannot command in his own home.

When the reverend's rebellious daughter Ariel (Saxona Woolgar) sets her sights on Ren, her roughneck boyfriend Chuck (Jonny Jones) tries to sabotage Ren's reputation, with many of the locals eager to believe the worst about the new kid. The heartfelt story that emerges is of a father longing for the son he lost and of a young man aching for the father who walked out on him.

Footloose. Picture by Stephen Candy

Footloose. Picture by Stephen Candy

All the songs are there from the eponymous toe-tapper, Let's Here it for the Boys, Holding out for Hero and much more. There are many big numbers - with superb choreography by Lindsay Swift - but the talent was really showcased on the quieter, less showy songs like the beautiful Learning to be Silent, Heaven Help Me and Can You Find it in Your Heart.

Hopkins and Woolgar both have their moments to shine, but for me the show was elevated by the performances of Cornell, who was a force of nature as the stubborn Rev, and Jo Williams as his wife Vi, who in many ways in the beating heart of the show. Williams' performance is simply heartbreaking.

Dan Lacey as Ren's friend Willard and Bethany Landskroner as Rusty are brilliant as the pair you are rooting for to get together and both provided great comic timing and pitch perfect singing..

Everyone involved has put their heart and soul into a lively, entertaining production full of great songs, dancing and fun. So kick of your Sunday shoes, lose your blues, and cut footloose.

Footloose is on Friday and Saturday (October 26&27) with a matinee on Saturday. For tickets and more information visit www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/The-Hawth/Show/ad6b0713-f283-e811-a958-8e5057eebb6d/footloose

Tickets: £19 (student/over 60: £18), Child: £15

Running time: approx. 2 hours 20 mins (including interval)