Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Review | FOOTLOOSE (New Alexandra Theatre Stage Experience) August 2014

Since 2003, more than 1200 young performers have taken to the New Alexandra Theatre stage. They have shown and proved that when it comes to putting on a good show, the Midlands youth are a theatrical force to be reckoned with. Following the success of last year's production of Annie, the New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham present a 120-strong cast for the 2014 stage experience, Footloose

This is the classic tale of teenage rebellion and repression that follows teenager Ren McCormack's move from big-city Chicago to the small Midwestern town of Beaumont. Although he tries hard to fit in, the streetwise Ren can't quite believe he's living in a place where music and dancing are illegal.  It's a quest to cut loose and convince the Bible-thumping minister, who is responsible for keeping the town dance-free to change his mind. 

With just two weeks to put on a full-scale production with 120 amateur performers you'd be forgiven for thinking that this attempt at a West End spectacular would be a bit rough around the edges... in fact the end product is quite the opposite. Here is a slick, fast paced energetic dance musical that brings together unbelievable talent from the West Midlands. Led by Matthew Russell as Ren, the cast are in incredibly capable hands. At just 15, Russell manages to front the entire show with an impressive voice and a characterisation of maturity beyond his years.

Love interest Ariel is played by Georgia Anderson who provides a powerful, exciting I Need A Hero. Her faultless rendition of Almost Paradise would rival professional singers and compliments the harmonies of Russell beautifully. Comedy is provided by the excellent Callum Connolly as Willard, perhaps the most developed character who earns plenty of laughs from a charming portrayal. His number, Mamma Says brings a welcome sense of fun to the second act. He is partnered with Nicole Appleby (Rusty) whose Lets Hear It For The Boy is easily a highlight. An impressive performance from Aneira Evans as Vi Moore brings the show to a standstill after Can You Find It In Your Heart.

There are minor sound issues whereby vocals are occasionally lost in the volume of the orchestra but this is easily overlooked considering the daunting rehearsal schedule. What is clear from the outset is the enormous effort that makes this yearly scheme the ultimate experience for young performers. Once again Pollyann Tanner directs and choreographs a wholly triumphant production. A phenomenal combination of passion and talent from the stars of tomorrow. Playing until Sat 23 August, do go along and support. Book tickets here.

Watch cast interviews here:

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Cast List: Emily Kate Hall, Kayleigh Johnson, Annie Tabberner, Shannon Weir, Olivia Wicks, Lucy Williams, Jessica Abbott, Shannon Berridge, Emma Cartwright, Felicity Gifford, Amy hart, Vicky Hawkins, Rebecca Ingram, Sophia McDermott, Sophie Tierney, Jordan Abbot, Dru Bennett, Todd Dougan, Lewis Pallett, Sam Rogers, Beth Carter, Sophia Elton, Georgia May Hart, Emily Haywood, Mimi Mendy, Hugh Osbourne-Brookes, Megan Perry, Leah Price, Daveena Saranna, William Taylor, Lydia Thomas, Libby Baskerville, Lauren Brown, Yasmin Cooper, Danielle Florey, Hannah Fuller, Scarlet Griffiths, Alice groom, Niamh Hawkes, Taylor Hemming, Danielle Huntley, Victoria Jackson, Daisy Meade, Molly Phillips, Annabel Russell, Lucy Treharne, Grace Willetts, Taylor Billings, Natasha Fensome, Sarahjayne Gibbs, Millie Lowe, Akinah Muhammad, Saskinah Muhammad, Dale Sewll, Eleanor Thomas, Laura Timothy, Olivia-May Wormald, Richard batham, Callum Connolly, Chris Johnstone, Drew Rafton, Matthew Russell, Mark Walsh, Georgia Anderson, Nicole Appleby, Danielle Cordingley, Aneria Evans, Caprice Lane, Annie Tabberner, Molly Williams, Megan Bird, Olivia Buchanan, Sally Croft, Katie Davie, Molly England, Beth Field, Sophie Freeman, Megan Goldby, Robyn Griffiths, Ellie Griffin, Chloe Harris, Sadie Horton, Talia Manders, Eloise Simpson, Alisha Twine, Emily Wyatt, Katie Wyatt, Priya Appleby, Emily Ashen, Thomas Ashen, Gibsa Lee Bah, Charlotte Bayliss, Phoebe Benson, Verona-India braich, Kyle Dargle, Harry Egerton, Lily Gain, Jasmin Gill, Rebecca Hewitt, Keown On-Ree Inniss-King, Laura King, Thom Lambert, Maisie Lodge, Georgia Martin-Jackson, Mia McLaughlan, Alfie Mitcham, Sophie Rutherford, Ella Sanders, Katie Vaissiere, Amelia Wallace, Khalid Daley, Matthew Evans, Charlie Howell, Nicholas Jones, Joseph Maslin, Louie McNally, Oliver Nicholas, Daniel Poppitt, Michael Reynolds, Caven Rimmer, Nicholas Southcott, Thomas Stringer, Ben Tanner, Dan Taylor, Chris Newton, Colin King, Steve Owen, Andy Waterson, Niel Morgan, Tom Mark, Paul Smith, James Bower, Katie Samways.

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