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  • Writer's pictureSarah

Footloose - make sure you dance all the way to New Wimbledon Theatre

At the end of it's tour now in London, Footloose is the high energy musical that will find you leaving the theatre on a high.

I have to confess that in 1984, aged 22, I was having far too much fun to see the film, and despite being a huge Kevin Bacon fan, I've never managed to rectify that. The plus side of this, is that I didn't have any preconceptions about the characters or even the plot, all I knew was the Kenny Loggins' song!

Woman standing next to a cut out of Aston Merrygold
Not the real Aston Merrygold!

Darren Day stars as the Rev. Shaw Moore, along with Aston Merrygold (best known as a member of JLS) as Willard Hewitt. Both of these managed to bring both humour and vulnerability into their roles. But the cast are all stars in my opinion. Joshua Hawkins as the rebellious Ren McCormack manages to capture both the exuberance of youth, and the bewilderment and hurt caused by his father's abandonment of him and his mother.

Lucy Munden as Ariel, the Reverend's rebellious daughter is fresh out of drama school, but you'd never know it. I was impressed by Oonagh Cox, another recent drama school graduate who plays Rusty - the girl smitten with Willard because she likes a 'quiet man'. Her rendition of 'Let's hear it for the boy' made me think that we were seeing a star in the making.

The cast singing, dancing and playing instruments.  Photo credit Mark Senior
The cast singing, dancing and playing instruments. Photo credit Mark Senior

The skills of the rest of the cast are amazing; not only do they sing and dance, they play the musical instruments too. At one point also skipping over a large rope. I'm not talking about strumming a few chords on a guitar either; this cast played saxophones, clarinets, and flutes as well as the guitars.

I did feel a bit uncomfortable that in a very white cast, that the only 2 black actors were paired as love interest. (Aston and Oonagh)

The set design managed to convey great depth in a relatively small stage, and scene changes were seamless.

This production didn't shy away from misogyny. There was a very powerful 3 woman song between Ariel, her mother Vi and Ren's mother Ethel, 'Learning to be silent'. Ariel is on the receiving end of a black eye from her boyfriend Chuck (played by Tom Mussell with great swagger and threat).

Ren and Ariel finally get their dance - he's holding her up off the ground.  Photo credit Mark Seniorr
Ren and Ariel finally get their dance. Photo credit Mark Senior

The show has a happy ending. The Rev realises that his own brand of mourning is pushing his wife and daughter away, and that God wants us to be joyous in our lives when we can. We are all invited to join in with the High School dance - and the whole audience did just that, we were on our feet and dancing along with the cast. Not bad for a Tuesday night!

Do not miss this show, it's only on until 20th August.

Address: 93 The Broadway, Wimbledon, SW19 1QG

Phone: 0844 871 7615

Nearest station: Wimbledon for overground, tube and tram.


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