Let’s Hear It For The Boy … and the whole IMT team!
Inverness Musical Theatre
Eden Court, Inverness
* * * * *
THOUGH Inverness Musical Theatre’s Footloose is about so much more than one person, a charismatic leading man playing natural rebel Ren McCormack is the first box ticked.
From Chicago, Ren and his mum arrive in small town Bomont – where after a tragic accident – dancing is outlawed, Ren’s one outlet for his grief over his father abandoning him and his mum.
As Ren Alasdair Davidson has been shapeshifting across the stages of Inverness for the last few years in roles from Arthur Miller drama A View From The Bridge to My Fair Lady, Grease and the Wizard Of Oz.
Here, he has to be feisty but vulnerable and smart – and great casting meant a perfect match with Olivia Payne compelling as minister’s daughter Ariel.
From his first appearance onstage Davidson crowned the wow! effect already created by a switched-on chorus that could sing with a big voice and dance as if they loved it.
The moment the curtain partially opened on the famous dancing feet in neon and legwarmers, it was tweaking good memories of the movie for those who saw it back in the 80s.
But there are generations now for whom the movie is a complete unknown and, for them, the task IMT faced was dramatising the story clearly and powerfully enough to capture those who think Kevin Bacon is that man off the EE ads.
What was very exciting with this production was seeing all the new faces making an impact. To name just a couple, Poppy Charteris was sweet as Rusty and brilliantly led one of the most famous Footloose songs, Let’s Hear it For The Boy. And from the ‘grown-ups’, dance-hating minister Shaw Moore’s wife Vi, Morna Eadie, is another to watch for.
The technical team helped the story flow – an authentic-sounding lonesome train whistle here, bad-boy Chuck’s motorcycle there.
Simple scenery was moved by an efficient team, the lights had many moods, such as beautifully spotlighting the girls in big number Holding Out For A Hero – and the live band added pzazz throughout.
“Can’t you remember, we were that age?” Vi says to Shaw (Alan Macleod) with tingling marimba chimes taking the crowd's imagination to a place where the uptight, grieving rev was once young and fun.
One criticism of the show might be that occasionally it seemed as if the singers sacrificed intonation for volume – which also left some voices sounding harsh.
But this is a production – directed by Susan Munro – that lights up Eden Court stage and goes big to take you wholeheartedly to that America of another time, complete with boot-scootin’ moves and big rock hits – even that uncomfortable moment when Chuck lifts his hand to Ariel...
With a big finish that saw the cast leap off their feet, the show got the audience up on theirs before one extra little surprise…
Footloose continues at Eden Court, Inverness on Friday, Saturday afternoon matinee (2.30pm) and Saturday night. Details: www.eden-court.co.uk