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  • Daniel May

Footloose by BMDS is nothing but Epic!


The musical version of that iconic 80’s movie, Footloose is currently playing in the Grand Opera House, taking on this iconic production is Belfast Music and Drama Society a local theatre group.

Filled with plenty of well-known tunes and a tendency not to take itself too seriously, this is the perfect way for audiences to lose their blues and kick off their Sunday shoes.

The plot will be familiar to anyone who has seen the movie that helped launch the career of Kevin Bacon. After being abandoned by his father; Ren McCormack, and his Mother, leave Chicago to live with his Aunt and Uncle in the small town of Bomont. Ren struggles to fit in to his new home, despite making friends with a dim-witted cowboy named Willard, and finding a love interest in Ariel.

In Bomont, dancing is illegal, but Ren just can’t stand still so he takes on City Hall, and Ariel’s father Reverend Shaw Moore, to overturn the law so that the senior year can hold a dance. A fairly typical story of teenage love, angst and rebellion brought to life with a dynamic score.

In the lead role of Ren, is the talented Sean O’Neill, delivering flawless dance moves and pitch perfect vocals. He captures the mixture of emotions his character is experiencing while maintaining the likeability of Ren, in the final scenes where he confronts Shaw, he gives an impassioned speech which is the icing on the cake of his unflagging performance.

Jordan Walsh who is both the founder of the company and show Director is impeccable as the slightly over-the-top Willard, his comic timing was so apparent and really engaging but it’s when he sings is when you really get to see him flourish. Sean and Jordan have a strong chemistry together which helps cement the unlikely friendship element of the story line.

Courtney Burns, as Ariel grasps the opportunity to portray a complex female lead. A character that is confused with her relationships who rebels against her parents. Her ‘Holding Out for a Hero’ is a highlight, along with her duet of ‘Almost Paradise’. The latter was perfection to listen to, loved the harmonies, great job!

Choreography from Ann Marie Morgan is demanding, but stunningly executed, with the look and feel entirely in keeping with the era, though with a new twist. I have performed in Footloose and seen both amateur & professional productions though can honestly say the dance level in BMDS production way succeed my expeditions. Loved all the routines though particularly the more comical numbers such as Mommy Says and Holding Out for a Hero. It’s clear to see why Ann Marie is a multi-award-winning Choreographer.

Others that deserve a quick mention are Fergal White as Shaw, the final scenes moved us in the audience, his vocals throughout were lovely with a slight opera feel. Ceara Gallagher as Vi, Ariel’s mother what can I say “He’s my son too!” that line alone delivered with purpose and emotion really gave us tingles. Ceara for me was particularly strong with amazing stage presence, it was apparent she was a seasoned professional, delivering with her faultless vocals. Niamh Long as Rusty WOW what a voice from such a petite person, she was a breath of fresh air and gave so much depth to the character, loved her cheeky flirty mannerisms directed at Willard.

The ensemble looked to be around 60 strong, it is no mean feat directing such a large group though no one disappointed, all should be very proud of the performance they delivered.

Footloose The Musical is the very definition of ‘feel-good’. Jordan Walsh has, yet again, directed a fantastic piece of musical theatre which permeates deep in to the audiences’ hearts, and along with a first class performance from Sean O’Neill, makes this guaranteed to help you cut loose, get on your feet and relish every moment.

There are only 5 performances remaining between now at Saturday evening, click here for tickets


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