Head along to a school production and you'd expect to see some proud parents sitting hands clasped while watching, let's be honest, some pretty average acting, dancing and singing.

You don't expect to be reduced to tears from spine-tingling singing, be sore from laughing at funny characters and be truly wowed by the delivery of lines and quality of dancing.

Let's check that ticket again – yes, I'm at the Rotorua Boys' High School and Rotorua Girls' High School production of Footloose.

The cast of Footloose. Photo/Andrew Warner
The cast of Footloose. Photo/Andrew Warner

Based on the classic 1980s movie, it's a story of a small American town where the local council has ruled, at the hands of the town's reverend, that dancing is not allowed.

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While a lot can be said for those who have coached these youngsters – thank the skills of award-winning director John Drummond, musical director Cameron Hay, choreographer Turanga Merito and vocal director Elisha Hulton - these kids are damn talented.

There's no doubt Tawhao Webster, who plays the lead male character Ren McCormack, is the star of the show as he convinces the town that music is great. This Year 11 lad is something truly exceptional. His acting is focused and intense, his dancing is on point and his singing is captivating.

His onscreen girlfriend, the reverend's daughter Ariel Moore, played by the gorgeous Teina Cassidy, was also out of this world. She has a sweet and pretty voice that never missed a note and a confidence and poise in her performance not seen by someone so young.

Tawhao Webster (Ren McCormack) and Teina Cassidy (Ariel Moore). Photo/Andrew Warner
Tawhao Webster (Ren McCormack) and Teina Cassidy (Ariel Moore). Photo/Andrew Warner

The best song of the night was their poignant duet, Almost Paradise, where you could have heard a pin drop. Truly outstanding. And when it ended with a kiss, you could hear the crowd gasp – a moment not lost on Webster's father, former Rotorua Boys' High School head of Maori department Kimiora Webster, sitting in the back of the hall who called out "shot son", sending the crowd into hysterics.

But this show wasn't a two-horse race. There were four other stand-out characters – the booming and soulful voice of former boyfriend Chuck, played by Te Ao Billing, left us wanting to hear more, the hard case Willard, played by Josh Vandy, constantly had the crowd in fits of laughter, the emotion-filled singing of the reverend's wife Vi Moore played by Azrael Hansen and commanding acting and singing of Rev Shaw Moore, played by Rhayvon Mihaere.

Te Ao Billing showed his talents playing Chuck. Photo/Andrew Warner
Te Ao Billing showed his talents playing Chuck. Photo/Andrew Warner

It feels cruel to single out a handful of characters when the entire cast was noteworthy. You couldn't take your eyes off them during group songs such as I Need A Hero, and of course, Footloose.

Josh Vandy playing Willard. Photo/Andrew Warner
Josh Vandy playing Willard. Photo/Andrew Warner

You also can't forget the talents of the live band who never missed a beat all night providing the perfect accompaniment – a refreshing touch to hear instead of using the easy option of backing tracks.

For an opening night of 13 shows, this production was truly outstanding. Hours of work has gone into this performance, so come on Rotorua it would be great to see full houses every night.

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Trust me, you will be witnessing New Zealand stars of the future.

Star of the future Tawhao Webster. Photo/Andrew Warner
Star of the future Tawhao Webster. Photo/Andrew Warner

What:

Footloose, Rotorua Boys' High School with Rotorua Girls' High School

When:

7pm, August 17 - August 25

Where:

Rotorua Boys' High School Memorial Hall

Cost:

Adults $15, children $5. Tickets available at Rotorua Boys' High School or online at www.rbhs.school.nz