The first thing that strikes you about this show is its sheer relentless energy. The cast are dancing almost constantly from start to finish and the most energetic actor of all is undeniably Ben Lancaster, who plays the dancing rebel newcomer to Bomont, Ren McCormack. He passionately portrays Ren’s frustration at the city ban on dancing (following the death of the Rev Moore’s son in a car crash after a dance) and makes the character confident, but not arrogant, and very likeable. His vocal range seems limitless and his athleticism is evident not only in his effortless dancing but also in his prowess on roller skates in the Burger Blast scene. He isn’t bad at press ups either.
The other outstanding male lead deserving recognition is John Hall, who plays Rev Moore. He fits the role of domineering but well intentioned patriarch perfectly; his powerful voice makes him ideal as a preacher. His only weakness is in the consistency of his accent, which bears more of a likeness to Tevye (from Fiddler on the Roof) than an American pastor. The dark horses of the show are definitely Lee West and Robyn McIntyre, who play awkward couple Willard and Rusty. Willard starts as a would be ineffectual ‘hard man’, trying (and failing) to put new boy Ren in his place. West bides his time to reveal his excellent comic timing in ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’ when he tries to explain to Ren that he can’t dance and Ren mistakes it for lack of arousal with Rusty. ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’ is also where McIntyre comes into her own vocally and shows the power of her voice in solo parts, where previously she had (due, I suspect, to inopportune microphone failure) been rather drowned out by Frankie Townsend and Fiona Lane, who make up the Greek chorus of friends around female lead Ariel (Rebecca Ferrin).
Overall, this is yet another slick, professional offering from LAOS whose boundless energy is contagious, offering the perfect remedy for post-Bonfire Night blues.