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Footloose at The Alexandra, Birmingham - Review

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Let's hear it for the stage version of the film sensation
A national UK radio station recently revealed that listeners had voted the 1980s as the best decade for music. Most of the audience watching Footloose at The Alexandra in Birmingham would probably agree. The original movie, starring Kevin Bacon, on which the stage musical is based was released in 1984 and the tunes still persuade people to get up and dance. Tracks like Holding Out For A Hero, Let's Hear It For The Boy and, of course, Footloose had the fans on their feet at the end of the opening night performance.

Footloose, The Alexandra Birmingham, Musical, Review, Darren Day, Jake Quickenden, Joshua Hawkins, Lucy Munden, Oonagh Cox
The cast of Footloose (pic: Mark Senior)


Ironically, a show that gets people bopping is all about the prohibition of dancing in a small town in America. High school student Ren McCormack (Joshua Hawkins) and his mum, Ethel (Anna Westlake), move from Chicago to the rural backwater of Bomont where the town council, headed by church pastor, the Reverend Shaw Moore (Darren Day), has banned dancing and rock music. Ren's arrival provokes a mixed reaction. Fellow students Willard Hewitt (Jake Quickenden) and the pastor's daughter Ariel (Lucy Munden) become Ren's friends, while school dropout Chuck Cranston (Tom Mussell) and Rev Shaw take against him – for different reasons.

While Darren Day and Jake Quickenden are the 'names' to attract paying punters – and they certainly elicit an enthusiastic response from the audience – for my money the real stars of this vibrant production are Joshua Hawkins and Lucy Munden.

Joshua's theatre CV includes Jesus Christ Superstar and Twelfth Night, and in Footloose he demonstrates some fancy footwork and the ability to connect with the audience.

Footloose, The Alexandra Birmingham, Musical, Review, Darren Day, Jake Quickenden, Joshua Hawkins, Lucy Munden, Oonagh Cox
Joshua Hawkin's fancy footwork (pic: Mark Senior)


Amazingly, Footloose is Lucy's professional debut, not that you'd know it from her confident, assured performance and superb singing voice. One to watch, I think.

Also impressive is Oonagh Cox as Rusty, who has her eye on Willard as a boyfriend. Another young acting graduate, Oonagh tackles Let's Hear It For The Boy, like a veteran professional.

Footloose, The Alexandra Birmingham, Musical, Review, Darren Day, Jake Quickenden, Joshua Hawkins, Lucy Munden, Oonagh Cox
Oonagh Cox (seated, centre) with Lucy Munden (right) (pic: Mark Senior)


This is a show that is not afraid to push the envelope. Any production that includes skipping rope routines and bouncing basketballs deserves credit – the number of things that could go wrong is endless! However, the really brave move is to have the cast playing their own instruments, rather than having a band in the pit (although there is a drummer at the back of the stage and a bass player off-stage).

Seeing the young performers acting, dancing, singing AND playing guitar, keyboards, saxophone and clarinet confirms that the future of musical theatre is in safe hands.

Footloose is at The Alexandra until April 23.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Footloose, The Alexandra Birmingham, Musical, Review, Darren Day, Jake Quickenden, Joshua Hawkins, Lucy Munden, Oonagh Cox
Venue: The Alexandra, Birmingham

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Why? Based on the 1984 screen sensation, the stage version of Footloose sizzles with spirit, fun and the best in UK musical talent.
When: April 19 - 23, 2022
Phone: 0333 009 6690
Where: The Alexandra, Birmingham
Cost: From £13 plus fees
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