This stage adaptation of the hit movie Footloose should have been a vibrant, raucous and youthful celebration of dazzling dance.
Unfortunately, what we got on the opening night of this production at the Palace in Manchester fell short of the mark and lacked energy and vitality.
After a poor first half where most of the energy was in the audience rather than the stage, the show picked up after the interval, building to a lively finale, but I still came away at the end feeling there was something lacking.
I was skeptical about Gareth Gates’ involvement at the outset of the show, but he was the one shining light in what was otherwise a lacklustre production. We all know the man can sing but he also revealed he can act and dance.
He was the ultimate professional but at times looked like he was gatecrashing an amateur dramatic production or the dress rehearsal.
Based on the 1984 screen sensation, Footloose: The Musical tells the story of city boy Ren, who has to move to a rural backwater in America where dancing is banned.
When the film was released in 1984, it became the highest-grossing February release in US film history. The soundtrack album ended the year-long reign of Michael Jackson’s Thriller at number one and went on to top album charts all over the world, eventually selling in excess of 17 million copies.
It’s a shame this production couldn’t adequately re-create that movie magic, although if you’re a Gareth Gates fan you won’t be disappointed.
Runs to March 19