Theatre: Keeping your wildlife garden buzzing

Connor Going as Chuck and Hannah Price as Ariel Moore in Footloose. Photo Credit Matt Martin
Connor Going as Chuck and Hannah Price as Ariel Moore in Footloose. Photo Credit Matt Martin

The Nolan Sisters made their name singing I’m in the Mood for Dancing so there is a certain irony that one of their number finds herself in a place where all singing and dancing is banned.

This the town of Bomont, the setting for Footloose: The Musical which brings Maureen Nolan on tour to the Lyceum next week.

Based on the 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon, Footloose tells the story of city boy Ren, who moves to this rural backwater in America and discovers that dancing is illegal.

Maureen plays Vi, the wife of the local preacher who has convinced the town that dancing is sinful.

“It’s based on a real story. In a small town in America where they banned singing and dancing,” she reveals. “Vi is caught between her husband and her rebellious daughter and all the young people who feel hard done by. She becomes a mediator.”

Footloose is a great film and there’s all the music from the film with a story that has a bit of substance in it.

Holding Out for a Hero, Almost Paradise, Let’s Hear it for the Boy and the title song, Footloose, are hits from the soundtrack. The stage show is bursting with dazzling dancing and electrifying music.

As Vi, Maureen gets a share of that. “I get to sing as part of the ensemble and with two of the girls we perform Learning to be Silent, a ballad written for the musical,” she explains. “Then in the second half Vi has her own number, Can You Find It In Your Heart, which she sings to her husband.

“They threw me into the mix and in the climax I have a bit of a bop.”

They say that being among young people helps to keep you young. “Off stage and on it’s wonderful to be surrounded by young people and see them full of optimism. They are all so talented – actors who are also musicians who make up the band, it’s incredible. I am in awe of them.

“Hannah Price who plays Ariel and sings Holding Out for a Hero brilliantly also plays keys and saxophone and other instruments . She also has a degree in civil engineering. All that by the time she is 26.

“My sisters have come to see it and have been really impressed,” she says. Unlike Blood Brothers where Maureen was the fourth sister to take on the role of Mrs Johnstone she is the only Nolan to be in Footloose so far.

“I was in it 10 or 11 years ago playing the same role. This time they’ve also given me a little cameo role as the school principal.” She differentiates the characters by making the principal much more dowdy.

Being in Footloose does not carry the same emotional demand as Blood Brothers. “I cried every single night I did it. It was my favourite musical before I ever played the part.

“I was offered Blood Brothers again after I had started Footloose,” she reveals. “My sister Denise wondered if I could resist it, she said it would take the drop to my ego. I am not egotistical but I did struggle with my decision because compared to Mrs Johnstone I do not do a great deal in this. But that can be rather nice.

The sisters remain close and supportive of each other through the various dramas in their lives such as Linda’s recent cancer diagnosis (“She is doing really well”) and Maureen’s marriage break-up last year.

After the end of the Footloose tour in October Maureen prepares for a Christmas run in Peter Pan in her home town of Blackpool and then in the new year starts a new tour of Menopause the Musical .

Footloose: The Musical is at the Lyceum Theatre from Tuesday to Saturday.