Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Youthful exuberance wins the day

READING Operatic Society is back at the Kenton after a 34-year absence with their latest musical, Footloose.

READING Operatic Society is back at the Kenton after a 34-year absence with their latest musical, Footloose.

The musical, based on the 1984 Hollywood film starring Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer, opens on Wednesday, April 10 for a four-night run.

Yvonne Maynard, the society’s chairman, said: “We like to do two main performances a year and up until now we have played at the Hexagon. But now the Hexagon will only allow amateur groups to do one show a year, so we are back at the Kenton — and really looking forward to it.

“I have worked at the Kenton with other societies over the years, and I love it. It’s got a lovely feel. A lot of our younger members have never been there before but I’m sure they’re going to enjoy it.

“It’s got a different feel, a warmth, that you don’t get in the bigger venues, as you are so close to the audience and there’s a feeling that you are all in it together.”

Footloose — which was written as a stage musical in 1999 and played in the West End and on Broadway — tells the story of a Chicago boy, Ren McCormack, who is forced to move to a sleepy Bible belt town where music and dancing has been banned. Encouraged by his mates at Bomont High School, Ren challenges the authorities in the ultra-religious community in an attempt to overthrow the ban. Meanwhile, he falls for rebellious girl Ariel, who has a redneck boyfriend and an over-protective father.

The lead part is played by Reading University graduate, Jerome Ifill.

Yvonne said: “Jerome first came to the society when we did West Side Story as one of the Sharks, and astounded us all with his dancing. He is a hip-hop and street dancer so he is ideally suited to this part.”

The production is directed by Lloyd White, and the choreographer is Henley dance guru Emma-Jane Taylor. A seven-piece band, including keyboards, guitar, percussion and saxophone, will provide the music under the baton of Mark Webb.

The musical includes famous numbers such as Let’s Hear It For The Boy, Almost Paradise, and Holding Out For A Hero.

l Footloose runs at the Kenton Theatre from Wednesday, April 10 to Saturday, April 13, with a matinée on the Saturday. Tickets for the show are available from the box office on (01491) 575698 or via the webiste,

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