Review: Footloose, Festival Theatre

Uplifting Eighties classics? Check! Celebrity cast? Check! Brilliantly tacky costumes? Check!

There’s no denying that the casting of Gareth Gates as the simple but oh-so-loveable Willard in Footloose: The Musical was what guaranteed to show to be a complete sell-out when it arrived at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre earlier this week. However, it was the infectiously energetic dance routines and talented cast that ensured the audience left their seats smiling.

Based on the cult 1984 movie of the same name, which starred Kevin Bacon, the musical follows the story of Ren, an angsty teenager from Chicago who moves to a small West Virginian town which has banned its residents from dancing.

The fact the cast all played their own instruments throughout, including saxophones, guitars, pianos and violins, was impressive, but slightly confusing. Whilst it added to the playful nature of the more upbeat numbers, including Let’s Hear It for the Boy and Holding Out for a Hero, it acted as a distraction from some of the more low-key, emotional scenes.

Luke Baker was fantastic in the lead role, proving himself to be a true triple-threat throughout, whilst Gareth Gates’ comedic portrayal of Willard had the whole audience rooting for him. The true star of the show, though, was Joanna Sawyer as Rusty, Willard’s love interest. She was both quirky and likeable, and her vocals were so stunningly flawless that the majority of the audience didn’t even mind when she got to kiss Gates!

A fun show that’ll give you the perfect excuse to cut loose.

Footloose, Festival Theatre, until Saturday 20 February, 7:30pm (2:30pm matinee performance on Saturday), £22 – £42, 0131 529 6000.

Words: Amy Anderson