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REVIEW: "Footloose" by Phoenix Ensemble

A Spirited Journey Back in Time

I had the pleasure of attending the Saturday 20th Feb evening performance of Footloose at Phoenix Ensemble in Beenleigh, and it was an absolute delight from start to finish. This production, set against the backdrop of a bygone era, skilfully captured the essence of a community grappling with local edicts imposed by a determined preacher seeking control over the town's youth.

As a vocal teacher, I'm particularly attuned to strong vocal performances, and Footloose delivered. The trio of girls - Rusty, Wendy Jo, and Urleen - stole the spotlight with their purposeful and continuous renditions of 'Somebody's Eyes' and a spectacular execution of 'Holding Out for a Hero' alongside Ariel. The casting choices were top-notch, ensuring a harmonious and powerful vocal ensemble. The trio of silenced women singing 'Learning to be Silent' added a poignant layer to the narrative, showcasing the production's ability to navigate through nuanced themes.

The upbeat dance numbers, including 'Mama Says,' 'Let's Hear It for the Boy,' and 'I Can't Stand Still,' were nothing short of electrifying, surpassing even the titular number of 'Footloose' in sheer enjoyment in my eyes. The choreography was energetic and engaging, filled with partner-work and classic canons. The final dance scene, featuring 80s-style outfits and Ren's sparkly blazer, was a visual and auditory treat.

Andrew McArthur's portrayal of Reverend Shaw stood out for its convincing delivery, capturing the essence of the character with finesse. AJ Betts as Rusty and Della Days as Vi Moore both delivered the most natural and engaging performances that added authenticity to the production. Aidan Cobb's endearing portrayal of Willard was consistently delightful, and despite mic issues, he showcased fantastic vocal strength. The ensemble's constant engagement and clever acting choices in the background, even during scenes focused on the leads, provided an additional source of amusement, creating a dynamic and engaging atmosphere. Yasmin Fitzgerald brought a delightful and refreshing version of Ariel that stood out from the familiar movie character. Her acting was beautifully natural, her vocals powerful and never-tiring, and her gorgeous costumes added to the overall visual appeal. Sam Caruana's portrayal of Ren was nothing short of terrific. With a powerful voice, natural charisma, and moves reminiscent of Kevin Bacon, Caruana embodied the character with finesse. His performance contributed significantly to the overall enjoyment of the evening.

Overall, Footloose at Phoenix Ensemble was an enjoyable night filled with joy and adoration from the audience. The well-crafted performances, dynamic choreography, and the cast's undeniable chemistry and heart made it a memorable experience. Kudos to the entire team for bringing the nostalgic spirit of Footloose to life in spectacular fashion!


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