kelley abbey



footloose the musical

Kelley choreographed Footloose - The Musical, the all-rockin', all rollin' show played in Sydney in 2002 and starred Spencer McLaren. To do your own Footloose workout with Kelley ... click here!

kelley says

GFO and SEL asked me to choreograph Footloose the musical. I took great pleasure in being able to just choreograph this show.

I was working with the director David Gilmore that I did Grease with and took great great pride and joy in being able to clearly see what I was creating.

One downfall of Fame was not being able to see what I creating as I was performing in it. I never knew how the show went on Opening night which was mighty frustrating. With Footloose it has been great to completely enjoy the experience of creating and choreographing.

Again I have been surrounded by such an incredible cast that the process was easy and exciting.

I seem to have been trapped in the 80's choreographing Fame and Footloose. My work 20 years ago has been great research material for me to draw on.

Everybody Cut Everybody Cut!

The Footloose cast


Dance Wizards of Oz

With Footloose now rattling the rafters, we have another musical touting for business in Sydney alongside Mamma Mia!, Cabaret (just moved to Melbourne) and Hot Shoe Shuffle.
What's remarkable about this - aside from the appetite for escapist, eye-catching entertainment - is the evidence on each of the stages of the extraordinary depth of singing, dancing and acting talent now available in this town.

Think back just 10 or so years ago, and getting together a half-way decent chorus line for even one musical would have been a big ask. But now? Shazam! You want Jerome Robbins? You got him. You want a rock spectacular? Just gimme a backbeat. Suddenly, Sydney is up to its ears in the sharpest, tightest, dazzlingest dance routines this side of the Great White Way. How come?

Kelley Abbey
is well placed to give an opinion. She's the 36-year-old performer-turned choreographer responsible for the dance routines in Footloose. You may remember Abbey from Sweet Charity and Fame. During the early '90s, she played Jo Jo in Channel 10's E Street, and she's appeared in Grease, Dancin' Man, West Side Story ... you get the picture. This is a girl who knows her dance steps.

"I think it's because for so long we thought we were inferior to the West End and Broadway, so we had a bigger hunger to do it," Abbey says. Her voice is still hoarse from exhorting her troupe through their first performances. This view - of the inferiority complex turned on its head - isn't simply Abbey's own. It's something she's sensed working all over the world. "I think the energy is different because we've travelled," Abbey says. "We've seen a lot, we've worked with lots of different directors in different situations. And, as a choreographer, I've worked with directors from New York and the West End, and they say the main difference is that energy."
And things have changed. When Abbey was growing up in Brisbane, a girl who wanted to be a dancer was automatically channelled to the local Madame Frou Frou's Academy de Dance. Abbey was no exception - but she had other plans.
"When I was 17, I moved to Sydney. I wanted to be the best dancer I could be." And she didn't mean ballet. Abbey is probably one of those who started the rolling wave of Australian theatre-dance talent. As she recalls: "There was no such thing as a full-time performing arts course back then. So it was almost impossible to acquire those all-round skills we now take for granted. Now, you can take your pick of really excellent courses and the teachers are serious professionals."
Sunday Telegraph - 3 November 2002

Be brave enough to dance in the aisles

Footloose, the rock 'n' roll musical that was a movie, is a total gas.
[Spencer McLaren] is supported mightily by a fabulous cast, and a troupe of dazzling young singer-dancers [with] sassy hi-energy choreography by Kelley Abbey.
The Sunday Telegraph - 3 November 2002

Splashy dance numbers lift hackneyed plot

The Australian production [of Footloose], directed by David Gilmore, choreographed by Kelley Abbey and designed by Peter England, has plenty of vibrancy and looks appealing, especially in the ensemble numbers.
When the cast gets to "cut loose" for the splashier numbers, including the red-hot opener, Footloose offers fun, energy and spark, for which we have Kelley Abbey to thank.
The Sydney Morning Herald - November 2002

The proof is in the hoofing

There is a thumping in the ceiling as I write this, because my 13-year-old is upstairs choreographing a new routine for her dance class. We've just come back from Footloose and she is hyped up, swinging her hips, flinging her arms into the air and then suddenly pointing at the sky in a way that seems vaguely familiar.
This stage version of Footloose, based on the 1984 movie, has an energetic chorus of dancers choreographed by Kelley Abbey. It has a fine company of experienced performers ... they all act and sing and dance up a storm.
Reviewed by John McCallum - November 2002

Everybody's gotta cut loose!

In our stress-packed lives most people can probably relate to the line, "Everybody's gotta cut loose!" You might recognise it from the song and smash hit movie of 1984, Footloose. This cult classic has now hit the stage as a musical, and we've brought you your own Footloose moves directly from the show, currently playing at Sydney's Capitol Theatre and then touring nationally.
There's nothing like dancing to loosen you up, and the cast members of the musical can vouch for the benefits of cutting loose. Choreographer, Kelley Abbey, believes dancing is the ultimate form of expression. "That's why people go out on Friday and Saturday nights to have a few drinks and a boogie," she says. "It's a way to release tension and express yourself."
Abbey has worked hard to bring the Footloose-era moves on to stage. "The big thing everyone remembers from the 1980s is the body roll," says Abbey. "I've tried to pay homage to such classic 1980s' moves but with a fresh contemporary look."
Footloose, which starred Kevin Bacon and featured Sarah Jessica Parker, spawned such hits as Let's Hear It For The Boy and Holding Out For A Hero. With Abbey's choreographed moves, the dancers groove away to all these favourites in the musical.
Footloose cast members Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Kane Alexander say the musical is the most physical show they've ever done. Both had to train extensively for months to raise their fitness levels.
Actors often have to work at a demanding physical level, while still being able to talk. To boost his fitness and singing strength, Kane Alexander used to run through Melbourne, singing as he went. "I got quite a few weird looks," he remembers.
After rehearsing for the musical both Alexander and Bassingthwaighte see the tremendous benefits of dancing. "The moves in Footloose work every part of your body," says Bassingthwaighte.
To bring you the benefits of the dancing in Footloose, Kelley Abbey has provided some moves from the show for you to do at home (or on the dancefloor). So for a good workout and a whole lot of fun, get out your leotard, pop on an '80s album and cut loose!
The Sunday Telegraph-Body & Soul - 3 November 2002

... check out Kelley's FOOTLOOSE workout!