KIERAN CORCORAN has gotten theatrical diabetes from the end-of-term musical.

ADC CUMTS Florence Carr footloose harry michell jack mosedale kieran corcoran lucie shorthouse Musical wanking will karani

ADC Theatre, 13th-24th March, 7.45pm, £8-12 

Directed by Florence Carr

[rating: 3/5]

Wouldn’t it be mad if someone from the city went to the countryside?!? And can’t a cheeky little dance just fix everything?

I know musicals are – sort of – supposed to have shitty, contrived plots, but even my end-of-term mush of a brain couldn’t quite choke it down without complaint. There’s much better musical plotting in Dr Horrible Sing-Along Blog. Plot motives include gems like “my father left for undisclosed reasons so now I’m a troubled teen” and “there was a car crash a while back so now we’re a troubled town.”

Unbelievable plots are fine when they either aren’t really important for the fun stuff happening elsewhere, or acknowledge they’re ridiculous and roll with it. Footloose, however, has enough slow, confessional numbers and lovey duets to actually need the audience to care about what these characters are doing and why.

The actors were perfectly good at getting us to laugh at American accents and high-school archetypes (Harry Michell, Lucie Shorthouse and Jack Mosedale did very well here), but while the funny trimmings excelled, the central meat was unconvincing. Will Karani’s authoritarian preacher was the best actor with a serious line to take, and a capable singer, but his performance stayed on an ironically singular note (well, he made two after the snap reversal in his character near the end). He was better singing about wanking a couple of weeks back.

Maybe I’m using completely inappropriate criteria – everyone danced well, and most songs were engaging and energetic. ‘Holding Out For A Hero’ made my neck do that shivery thing that happens when you watch something really good.

The energy in the songs was palpable – the dance routines were well-judged and sharp. There were some fun costumes, and a pleasingly adventurous set (though a front porch on wheels did become the inadvertent comic star of the night). The band were great, and had nice faces. Given this fact it was a shame that they were hidden behind a backdrop until the finale – if you have a group of performers performing it seems odd to keep them out of sight. The ADC stage can do orchestra pits, so why not here?

It’s difficult to judge musicals outside of their own frame of reference – people were dancing in their seats a bit, and clearly enjoyed it. If there’s music, dancing and enough of a saccharine framework to hang them round and call it a story, can anyone be reasonably dissatisfied?

I think yes: jumping low bars artistically, even while displaying a lot of technical prowess, doesn’t make an excellent show. While moments of Footloose (the standout songs) were enjoyable, much of it failed to live up to the story it was trying to tell us.