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Review: Footloose The Musical, The Tyne Theatre and Opera House

Footloose Review
What's on
July 2016
Reading time 5

Theatre-goers ‘cut loose’ at The Tyne Theatre and Opera House as Footloose The Musical rocked and rolled into Newcastle

Having never seen the 1980s hit film Footloose starring Kevin Bacon, this stage adaption by Dean PitchFord and Walter Bobbie, directed by Racky Plews, was my first experience of it.

Packed with toe-tapping hits such as Holding Out For A Hero, Let’s Hear It For The Boy and Footloose, there was lots of head-bopping and shoulder-shaking throughout the audience.

Despite a delayed start due to technical glitches and the stage screen failing to unveil the cast at the start of the finale, as well as an absent Gareth Gates (due to ill vocal health), nothing seemed to spoil this energetic, uplifting musical that tells the story of youth rebelling against straight-laced authority in the spirit of dance... and love. 

The highly talented, hardworking, actor-musician cast could not only sing pitch-perfectly, execute laugh-out-loud lines excellently and dance on-point, they also maneuvered all the set changes and delivered the musical score too.

Footloose Review

It was fascinating to watch as cast members dance around the stage to choreography steps by Matthew Cole, while playing a variety of instruments such as guitars, saxophone and flute to name just a few. Two pianos in the wings of the ever-changing set, designed by Sara Perks, were also tinkled by various members of the cast throughout the production, which was conducted by musical director and drummer David Keech.

Luke Baker’s role as city boy Ren, who thinks his life is over when he is forced to move to Bomont, an American rural backwater where dancing is banned, was a force to be reckoned with. Frustrated by the rules instilled in the town by Reverend Shaw Moore, (Nigel Lister) and wife Vi Moore (Maureen Nolan), Ren sets out to over throw the rules and win the heart of their daughter Ariel (Hannah Price) from bad-boy Chuck (Matthew Tomlinson).

Joanna Sawyer’s role as Rusty, who at times stole the show with her over-excited character was my favourite character, followed closely by Willard, an adorable, socially awkward personality played by Gareth Gates’ understudy Luke Thornton, who was a treat to watch.

Ren, backed by Ariel, Rusty, Willard and quirky friends ‘shake off their Sunday shoes’ and prove dancing is not a crime by bringing life and love back to Bomont resulting in a show-stopping grand finale featuring a medley of Footloose classics which had everyone up on their feet dancing.

Pop Idol star Gareth Gates is set to return to Footloose the musical on Thursday until Saturday 16 July at The Tyne Theatre and Opera House, in Newcastle.  

For tickets visit

Words: Marie Westmoreland.


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