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Strictly Footloose fever for winning pair

First published 04 Jul 2006

Hollie and Darrien (front) with (left to right) Derek Hough, Cheryl Baker, David Essex and Amy Pemberton. Photo: Edd Royal
Hollie and Darrien (front)
with (left to right) Derek Hough,
Cheryl Baker, David Essex
and Amy Pemberton
Darrien Wright and Hollie Robertson, the winning couple in the BBC television dance competition Strictly Dance Fever, made their West End debut in the dance musical Footloose The Musical last night.

Strictly Dance Fever judges Arlene Phillips, Ben Richards and Stacey Haynes were in attendance to watch their protégés take to the Novello stage alongside the regular cast of the show. As a result of their win in the second series of the BBC programme, Darrien and Hollie secured a contract to perform in Footloose for one week. Three weeks of preparation and training began almost as soon as they had picked up their Strictly Dance Fever trophy.

In Footloose, Darrien and Hollie, both 21, join the young ensemble cast who play teenagers in the town of Bomont looking for fun and trying to overturn a ban on dancing imposed by the Reverend Shaw Moore (David Essex). Leading the cast is dance-crazy out-of-towner Ren (Derek Hough) and his love interest, the Reverend’s daughter Ariel (Amy Pemberton). Cheryl Baker also stars as Vi Moore.

Speaking to officiallondontheatre after their very first performance in front of a West End audience, Darrien and Hollie were ecstatic about the experience. “Today we were really, really nervous but now I can’t wait to do it again. I just loved every minute of it. Absolutely loved it,” said Darrien.

“It’s been absolutely amazing,” echoed Hollie. “Our nerves were incredible. I was trying to work out whether they were worse than how I felt every night we went on the floor [on Strictly Dance Fever]. As soon as the curtain went up and we started dancing it was amazing, I enjoyed every second of it. I didn’t really have a picture of what it would be like. I’m so happy and proud of myself and Darrien, it really came together.”

Darrien continued: “The show was so hard, and we didn’t want to let everyone down, we didn’t want to let each other down.”

“We’re both perfectionists,” added Hollie, “and we want everything to be perfect, but for me that was the best I’ve ever done it bar one little thing where I was a second late, and I’m really pleased with that.”

Footloose Choreographer and Director Karen Bruce, who also choreographed Fame, Saturday Night Fever, and Pacific Overtures, for which she won a 2004 Laurence Olivier Award, said of the young pair: “It’s great, it’s always really good to bring in some new energy. They were very nervous, but it pushed everybody’s game up and I think they’re adorable, they’re really young talents, and they’ve been pushed in more ways than just the dance because they’re singing and acting out there as well. I think they’ve done really well. Now they’ve got tonight over with it will grow and grow and they’ll have a lot more fun with it. They’ll have a giggle.”

Hollie and Darrien perform in Footloose. Photo: Andy Bradshaw
Hollie and Darrien perform in Footloose
Bruce and the producers of Footloose were approached by Strictly Dance Fever after the programme makers decided the show was an appropriate venture for the winning pair. “Ultimately, if you look at the other shows that are in town – this is probably one of the hardest dances for a dance show,” said Bruce. “Style wise, it’s got its own style but it’s ultimately about the enthusiasm and energy of the dancers. I would like to think that at the end of the show everybody wants to get up and attempt to have a dance.”

Bruce is also delighted with the public’s reaction to the musical since it opened, which has resulted in it extending its stay at the Novello until 11 November. “We snuck in, we’re not trying to be anything we’re not. I think it’s wonderful that the enthusiasm and enjoyment of the audience keeps the show alive, it’s purely word of mouth. We’re the little show that could – and we have.”

The show’s producers are currently finalising a new West End home for Footloose so it can continue beyond November, when the Royal Shakespeare Company returns to the Novello for its annual season.

Darrien and Hollie are appearing in Footloose until Saturday 8 July.

To book tickets for Footloose click here.


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