West London based ‘HEOS’ Musical Theatre triumph again with their 2019 Musical ‘Footloose’ at The Questors Theatre.
Having grown up in West London, and attending the church where the group holds rehearsals, I’ve always been familiar with the work of HEOS. I had attended the previous three productions (Little Shop of Horrors, Crazy For You and Made in Dagenham) and it is safe to say that number four ‘Footloose’ did not disappoint!
I went into the show completely blind, having only heard the titular song played every so often, and thanks to performers I became totally immersed. The plot surrounds teenager Ren (played by Chris Yoxall) who moves to the quiet, simple town of Bomont from the bustling city of Chicago. In Bomont dancing is banned but Ren just can’t stand still and he wants to hold a dance so the senior class can cut loose. While at first it seemed to be a simple, light hearted story, the plot was far more complex. At the heart of it all was a town tormented by grief where each citizen was impacted in a different way. The themes of pain, loss and anguish were put across so effectively (a particular favourite of mine was during the songs Learning To Be Silent and Heaven Help Me) as well as the uplifting messages of hope and fighting for what is right. All in all, Footloose was a rollercoaster of emotions from sobbing at the pain of the entire Moore family to laughing and smiling at the cafe scene and singing along to the iconic ‘I need a hero” as well as in the show’s finale which turned into a sing-along where many audience members were on their feet dancing with the whole town of Bomont.
The storytelling was aided by the fantastic staging and costumes. The Judi Dench Playhouse at The Questors Theatre has a simple, versatile stage that can be easily and effectively adapted for all the different shows that are put on. For ‘ Footloose’ the set seemed simple but as the story unfolded it turned out that this design enabled the players to transport us to several different locations such as the church in Bomont, the home of Rev Shaw, Vi and Ariel Moore and Bomont High. It was really innovative and impressive. Props to those tasked with moving furniture and staging between scenes, it was effortless! As aforementioned, the costumes also played a huge role in making this show such a success! The outfits given to each character looked authentic and helped transport the audience to 1984. The costumes also enabled there to be a clear distinction and divide between the more traditional citizens of Bomont, headed by Rev. Shaw Moore (Chris Gibson), and the young people who wanted the chance to have fun and be young, headed by teen lovebirds Ren and Ariel (Gina Ackroyd). The colours of their outfits captured the rebellious, determined nature of the characters, spurred on by their spirit of youth in the face of adversity. In the end of act one the two groups of characters were divided by their contrasting views but in the end they all joined to dance together, young and old. It was lovely.
Perhaps the best thing about the entire production was the cast itself. The cast, and HEOS as a group, is made up from such a wide array of backgrounds and ages and it is remarkable to see. Everyone in the cast seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it throughout, this was especially clear during the curtain call where you could see proud, accomplished smiles all round. While the key cast members Ren, Ariel, Rev Moore and Vi (Sue Yoxall) were all phenomenal, so were the rest of the company, regardless of the size of the part. There was not a weak link to be seen, they were all stars! Special recognition to the lady who played the Cafe owner, when she appeared on roller skates the whole audience grinned! They should all be very, very proud of themselves.
To sum up, ‘Footloose’ was simply wonderful. HEOS set such a high standard every year yet are always able to deliver. Congratulations to the entire company and the creative team for an amazing 2019 production, I can’t wait to see what they deliver next. If you live in the West London area, make sure you check out HEOS, I can guarantee it’ll be an experience you won’t regret. In fact, just like me, you’ll be coming back for more!
To find out more about HEOS you can email them or contact them through Twitter or Instagram.
Cast photos courtesy of @heosmusicaltheatre on Instagram
This review is based on the evening performance on Friday 12th April 2019.