Let’s hear it for Larbert Operatic Society

Larbert Operatic Society stars get Footloose on stage
Larbert Operatic Society stars get Footloose on stage

‘Let’s Hear it for the Boy’ ... and the rest of the cast and crew of ‘Footloose’, performed this week by Larbert Amateur Operatic Society.

It’s high energy, full of fun and yet has an emotional heart that is hard to resist.

The story of the city boy (famously played on screen by Kevin Bacon) who is forced to move to a hick town where dancing and, well, anything fun is banned, is well known but no less absorbing for that.

It’s not often I’d give first mention to the dancers but their energetic moves really brought to life some excellent choreography by Yolande Borthwick that made the whole show absolutely bounce along and fizzle with energy.

So, does the singing suffer? Not a bit of it – musical director Jan Cunningham cleverly makes use of several strong vocalists within the company to create great harmony work throughout.

It helps, of course, that there are real powerhouse songs like the opening ‘Footloose’, ‘Let’s Hear it for the Boy’ and ‘Holding Out for a Hero’

Larbert Opera has some strong performers who always bring a polished, assured presence to the stage and, once again Stewart Borthwick (Rev. Shaw Moore) and Michelle Weston (Ariel Moore) set a very high standard with impressive vocals and acting skills. Antony Carter, playing the lead role of Ren, had a tough job ahead of him: the role demands good singing, dancing and acting and he really pulled it off.

What’s most impressive, though, is the depth of talent in the ensemble – many of whom are very young – and director Alasdair Hawthorn really allows that talent to shine.

The three friends of Ariel’s, Rusty (Marianne Elaine Herron), Wendy Jo (Paige Gilchrist) and Urleen (Caitlyn Freil) show off their considerable vocal skills with some really lovely harmony work, with backing from Tracy Allan, Karyn Russell and Caitlin Crozier.

One of the highlights, however, came rather unexpectedly from a really wonderful performance of ‘Mama Says’ with Ren’s friend Willard taking centre stage. John Coe thoroughly deserved the huge applause he received for his performance, while Chris Duncan and Antony Carter provided excellent support to really wow the audience with the routine.

Unlike many high-octane musicals that just string along one song after another, there is a real story and characters at the heart of ‘Footloose’.

Helen Roxburgh as the preacher’s wife who was forced to watch as her husband became locked in his grief and Ethel MCormack as Ren’s single mum really captured the emotions in their performances.

It’s a tribute to every single member of the cast that they got to the heart of the story, but, you know what? At the end of the day, it’s fun! The cast look like they are having a ball, the audience have big smiles on their faces and the music gets everyone clapping and dancing along. And that’s okay – dancing is not a crime!

‘Footloose’ is at the Dobbie Hall Larbert until Saturday.

Cast : Antony Carter (Ren McCormack); Dale Henry (Ethel McCormack); Stewart Borthwick (Rev. Shaw Moore); Helen Roxburgh (Vi Moore); Michelle Weston (Ariel Moore); Jeanna Connell (Lulu Warnicker); Gordon Gallagher (Wes Warnicker); Marianne Elaine Herron (Rusty); Paige Gilchrist (Wendy Jo); Caitlyn Freil (Urleen); Colin Fawkes (Chuck Cranston); Lucy Andrew (Betty Blast); John Coe (Willard Hewitt); Chris Duncan (Jeter); Matthew Hannah (Cowboy Bob); Friends of the girls: Tracy Allan, Karyn Russell, Caitlin Crozier.

Ensemble: Jim Nicol, Graeme Rodger, Christine Jenkins, Jillian Govan, Carole Fleming, Jen Dales, Yvonne Kelly, Jen Helmbolt, Claire Hamilton, Grace Rae, Margaret Ann Fletcher, Jamie McAllister, Steffan McGechie, Kevin O’Raw, Sarah Finlay, Lyn Shore, Abbie Macmorris, Elaine Cambell Swan, Keith Watson, Joanne Dingwall, Cameron Borthwick.]