The annual collaboration production between PNBHS and PNGHS had its first outing last night at the Property Brokers Final Dress Rehearsal Show. Director Chris Burton welcomed an eager crowd and expressed the excitement and nerves of a large cast and crew of 100+, some of which would be performing in a theatre capacity for the first time. Producing a show from the eighties was always going to be a crowd pleaser for an audience made up of a group that had lived through those awesome days!
Starting with the story of lead male Ren McCormack (Josiah Nevell) moving to the sombre town of Bomont with his Mother (Lisabet Morgan) after his Father deserted them is a necessarily low point. Ren is isolated, bored and trouble seems to follow him around – worst of all he finds out there is a law against dancing in the town.
Scaffolding on the stage provides good height options and allows the Reverend (Kyle Dahl) an excellent pulpit from which to preach his sermons. For a long time during the show I pondered over whether the Reverend was actually a PNBHS student or whether the role was, unusually, being played by an adult. I looked for any sign that he was not an adult but I just couldn’t find it. Referring to the programme confirmed that he is PNBHS student Kyle Dahl. With an impressive acting performance as father of rebellious youth Ariel Moore (Anya Darby), as husband to Vi Moore (Amy McLaren), and Reverend to the town; as well as a rich and perfectly timed vocal performance, Kyle filled some really big boots. It is hard to imagine his role being more perfectly carried out.
Lead actress Anya Darby’s portrayal of Ariel Moore was energetic and entertaining. She managed the tricky playoff between being a sensitive daddy’s girl and a confident boy-crazy teen with great skill. Her ability to portray emotion was delightful and heartfelt. With some big numbers to sing Anya did well to confidently belt some out, while also toning things down to sing an enchanting duet, ‘Paradise’, with love interest Josiah Nevill.
The use of a charming kitchen set created a secluded family setting for the Reverend and his wife Vi Moore (Amy McLaren) to play out their difficulties in agreeing on how to manage their daughter. Amy McLaren did an excellent job of playing the devoted mother and wife, her characterisation was spot on and was backed up by a great vocal performance. Lisabet Morgan playing the other Mother Ethel McCormack, similarly played a strong role and a vocal performance combing the talents of Anya Darby, Lisabet Morgan and Amy McLaren was particularly touching and well performed.
Ariel’s squad of friends played lively and energetic roles and offered excellent support. Rusty (Katie Atkins) played out her troubled relationship with lovable idiot Willard (Chris Dewhurst) with good comedic timing and sang with strength. Riley Booth’s portrayal of Urleen was confident and her vocal performance utterly sublime. Riley lit up the stage and put a passion into her dancing that was enjoyable to watch.
The second half of the show increased in tempo and and Josiah Nevill’s time to really shine came to life. Wow! His dancing is something to behold. Moving with such natural style, such ease and embodying so much life, his dance moves are intoxicating to watch. Combine that with a strong singing performance at the same time, Josiah pulled off an impressive act. Building a relationship over time with supporting act Willard, Josiah and Chris did a nice job of conveying that friendship on stage. With love interest Ariel, Josiah played out a tender role with a naturalness that was surprising in a school production. Josiah’s natural and easy style on stage meant he played a heroic role with modesty.
With a band taking a prominent part of the stage and Musical Director Paul Dredge visible conducting (and playing the harmonica) throughout the show it was a good reminder that there was an active and attentive live band providing the ambiance and delivering a hefty score.
The costuming and make-up departments must be commended for the adult characters they produced. As mentioned the Reverend was spot on, and the other adults in the show were ‘on point’.
‘Footloose’ came to a lively ending and was lavished with great applause by a well entertained crowd. Showcasing some great skills from some very talented students this is an enjoyable show.