Footloose by DOS
DARLINGTON Operatic Society’s latest production is based on the hit 1980s movie, Footloose, about a small American town where any form of dancing is forbidden by law within the town limits.
Enter Ren McCormack (DOS’s very own Kevin Bacon – Ben Connor, making the move from Willard to Ren with consummate ease), a troubled teen from Chicago whose father has deserted his mum, forcing her to seek shelter with her sister’s family in the sleepy backwater of Bomont.
The man behind the dancing ban is the Reverend Shaw Moore (now the elder statesman of DOS, Julian Cound) and it is Ren’s determination to overturn the ban, together with his growing relationship with Moore’s feisty daughter Ariel (the wonderful Rachel Geddes), that ultimately brings the pair into conflict.
The Reverend, blinded by his belief and refusing to heed the warnings of his long suffering wife Vi (the ever youthful Samantha Morrison), will do anything to quash Ren’s anarchistic attempts at encouraging the young townsfolk that “dancin’ ain’t all bad” and whilst the Reverend quotes scriptures and warns of hell and damnation he is no match for the town’s youthful energy. This is never better seen than when Ren and Ariel skip over the county lines to go to a nightclub, prompting Ren’s slapstick dance lessons with Willard (the fabulously funny and another great singer, Joe Connor) .
That we are not initially told of the Reverend's reasons for being so 'anti-fun' makes both his song "Heaven Help Me" and Vi's "Can You Find it In Your Heart?" all the more painful; parents desperate to protect their children but having to accept you cannot live their lives for them.
So much for the plot (we all know there's a great ending) – it’s the dancing and singing that this show is known for and once again DOS do not disappoint; stunning vocals from Ariel’s friend Rusty (Abbie Hand) and some brilliant ensemble dance routines give the show a real West End feel. Hits include Holding Out for a Hero, Let’s Hear it for The Boy, the hilarious Mama Says, and of course Footloose have the audience singing and dancing along, and, come the finale with the customary MegaMix there were few left seated as the full house took to the floor and did their own spot of rock and rolling.
Time and again DOS manage to bring together a huge group of uber talented young people (and some not quite so young) who simply explode onto the stage with such power and poise that they mock their so-called amateur status. Guided by director and choreographer Joanne Hand who sprinkles her magic across the stage, the whole theatre is illuminated with the prodigious talent of local people, with such joy, energy and enjoyment that you cannot fail to be inspired.
Having a show produced and performed by Darlington Operatic Society has for many years been like giving it a seal of approval and this is the latest in an incredible list of such performances – long may the dancing continue.
Footloose is playing at Darlington Hippodrome until Saturday 4th November – tickets and times from www.darlingtonoperaticsociety.org.uk or telephone 01325 244659