Music superstar Aston Merrygold makes his UK debut in the hit musical Footloose in Aberdeen next week – and he’s facing a real challenge.
The JLS singer has to pretend he doesn’t know how to dance when he takes on the role of Willard – and as anyone who saw Aston on Strictly Come Dancing knows, he actually has some nifty moves.
“It is a bit of a challenge because to try and dance off beat is difficult if you can,” said the talented West End star who will be in Footloose The Musical at His Majesty’s from Monday July 25 to Saturday July 30.
“It really is quite hard to not stay in time, but that will be part of the process of finding Willard’s character. I’m having to find a way of making a routine that doesn’t look like I’m dancing in time.”
Aston Merrygold working hard to nail his Footloose character
As well as mastering the non-dancing, Aston – who won a new slew of fans in The Masked Singer and also just released a solo single – says he has his work cut out nailing Willard’s character.
“It’s that really Deep South accent for one, and Willard has a lot of punchlines that need delivered properly – the writing is brilliant. It needs the performance to make the character come alive and understandable.
“He’s not the brightest spark of the bunch, so it’s trying to bring that wit and humour and charisma to the part is a challenge.”
Feelgood musical Footloose crammed with hits from the ’80s
Footloose The Musical is based on the revered ’80s film starring Kevin Bacon, about a city boy Ren who moves to a rural backwater in America, only to find dancing and rock music are banned.
He takes matters into his own hands and has the town on their feet – including his new friend, country boy Willard, who he teaches to dance.
The feelgood musical features a non-stop stream of ’80s hits, including Holding Out For A Hero, Let’s Hear It For The Boy and the unforgettable title track, Footloose.
Aston, who shot to fame with JLS via The X Factor, says Aberdeen audiences are in for a treat in what he describes as one of his favourite stories of all time, following a rebel with a cause.
Aston thinks The Masked Singer tour was ‘weirder than the TV show’
“I reckon my favourite part (of the film) is the montage where Ren is teaching Willard to dance and getting him on par to make sure he can dance and doesn’t make a fool of himself.”
As well as preparing for Footloose, Aston has been busy in other parts of his career, too. He was a panellist on the UK live tour of the Masked Singer – “even more weird than the TV show if that’s possible” – and has a new solo single out, How Many Times, with a possible solo tour in the wings.
And he dropped some big hints about the possibility of new projects coming from JLS – who reformed and had a hugely successful comeback tour in 2021.
“As you can tell we’re all back on our projects, but we are going to be back in the studio, we are going to be creative together. So if we can get our act together and make something happen music-wise, then we would love to be back out on the road.
“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Aston Merrygold has blizzard of memories from JLS Aberdeen gig
For now, though, Aston is concentrating on his role as Willard and being back in Aberdeen.
Ask what he remembers about the Granite City and it unleashes a blizzard of memories for the performer – literally.
“The one memory of Aberdeen that really springs to mind is that it (AECC) was one of the first arenas that I ever played, but there was a snowstorm. Trying to get the bus up to the arena that was a task I’ll never forget.
“The struggle and effort from the whole team to make that show work – and even people getting to the show was such a pain – but it was such a good night and definitely worth it.”
How to get tickets to see Aston Merrygold in Footloose at HMT
There won’t be any snowstorms to contend with next week, so Aston is looking forward to welcoming audiences to Footloose at His Majesty’s.
“Hold on to your seats… the fact that I’m able to get hold of a character and really let loose is going to be a lot of fun.”
For more information and tickets for Footloose The Musical at His Majesty’s, go to aberdeenperformingarts.com