It was definitely a case of ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’ as Footloose the musical let loose at The Palace Theatre, Manchester.
Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie’s adaptation of the iconic 1984 film brings all the 80s nostalgia you could ever wish for with the talented cast of actor-musicians belting out hits such as Footloose and Holding Out for a Hero.
But it was Gareth Gates (pictured) who stole the show, which is based on the extraordinary true story of how determined city boy Ren battled to bring public dancing back to the small town of Bomont.
Not only can Gates sing, but the greatest surprise of all (aside from learning what he looks like in a pair of sparkly gold hotpants) was his excellent comic talent and faultless dancing as Ren’s friend, simple countryman Willard.
He earned the biggest cheers of the evening – and deservedly so.
The lead female vocalists - Hannah Price making her professional debut as Ariel and Joanna Sawyer as Rusty - stood out with their sensational vocals while Blackpool stage star Maureen Nolan gave a strong performance as the Reverend’s wife, Vi.
Understudy Thomas Cotran did a decent job as Ren but lacked a bit of the charisma you’d expect from the lead role - especially when it came to the dance routines, which could have done with a bit more sparkle for a musical which is all about reviving dance.
Nonetheless, the audience were up on their feet by the finale.
n Footloose, Palace Theatre, Manchester, until Saturday, March 19, and Opera House, Blackpool, September 19 to 24.