Friday, 21 June 2019

AMATEUR THEATRE REVIEW: Footloose - The Carriageworks, Leeds.

This was my first visit to The Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds but based on this experience it will definitely not be my last. The theatre is situated in a very modern building and centrally located in Leeds on Millennium Square. The production of “Footloose” was in the main auditorium which I would definitely think holds a few hundred – it is a very impressive space.

This was also my first experience of LIDOS, the Leeds-based amateur theatre group who have been around for the more than 40 years and won numerous awards during that time. This was the first night of a 5 night run but you wouldn’t have guessed this based on this performance. It often amazes me just how professional the average amateur production is these days – but LIDOS appear to have moved this on to a new level.

For those who have not seen “Footloose”, the story is based around Ren McCormack (James Preston) a teenage boy from Chicago who arrives in the small town of Bomont where dancing has been outlawed by Reverend Moore (Robbie Love). The law coming about after his son was killed in an accident returning from a night of dancing. McCormack enlists the help of some of the teenagers in the town as they convince the Reverend to allow the teenagers to dance. The movie-musical starred a young Kevin Bacon and dates back to 1984 – it is loosely based on actual events that took place in a small religious community in Oklahoma, USA.

The musical is littered with many of the same classic 1980s songs such as the Kenny Loggins track “Footloose”, Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero” and Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear It For The Boy”. Whilst this does date the musical a little, the musical arrangement in this production makes them feel a lot more modern and relevant.

The standard of the performances by both Preston and Love was extremely high – this is often true on the amateur theatre circuit and this was no exception. They were ably backed up by the other cast members where I feel I need to make a special mention to Will Sadler who starred as the loveable simpleton Willard – for me he stole the show with his superb performance in a difficult role.

“Footloose” is a fun rock and roll musical where the audience signs along and has a great time. LIDOS have done a tremendous job in making this happen on this production – it really does make you want to “kick off your Sunday shoes and cut loose”.

Reviewer - John Fish
on - 18/6/19

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