Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics


Dean Pitchford & Craig Brewer
The Lowry, Salford
28 March 2011 to 02 April 2011

THE region could be twinned with Broadway for all the big musicals either arriving, passing through, or planned.

Brushing off the spending cuts gloom, it seems there’s no shortage of audiences delighting in the sheer escapism of musical theatre.

Buddy, Blood Brothers and Joseph are the staples; Mamma Mia, Sound of Music, Avenue Q, Legally Blonde, Top Hat and Dirty Dancing are all due before the year is out. And next year sees a major collaboration between the Halle orchestra, and Lowry and Royal Exchange theatres, to produce Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town.

Meanwhile the world premiere of Ghost the Musical opened in Manchester this week but is ‘bedding in’ for a fortnight before its VIP launch, then heading to London and the States.

At least Footloose needs no such introduction, even if – like Ghost – it is another musical developed from a cinema hit.

The high-energy spin-off from the 1984 film is on its umpteenth national tour, presumably now cashing in quick before a new film musical version is released at the end of this year.

It’s easy to see its enduring appeal, with some of the slickest dancing of any touring show around, three instantly-familiar anthems, and a fast-moving and uncluttered storyline where virtually everyone lives happily ever after.

Music is still banned in the American hick town of Bomont, until – that is – the arrival of the lippy Ren McCormack causes the town elders to mend their puritan ways.

Adam Booth, standing in for Max Milner, comfortably filled the role of Ren on opening night, and would be the first to admit he plays the part of a teenage tearaway from memory. Lorna Want is equally at home as love interest Ariel, and Matt Willis continues his stage life after boy band Busted as bad boy Chuck.

Overall though, this is an ensemble show with a thoroughly-engaging regard for acting standards throughout.

Reviewer: David Upton


Comment by Alan Hulme

Immediately forgettable.