A HARTLEBURY boy getting ready to don a dog collar for a production of Footloose got to catch up with singer David Essex for a few tips on the role.

Matthew Emeny, 16, had the opportunity to ask Mr Essex some questions while he was performing at Malvern Festival Theatres in The Dishwashers.

Matthew will be playing Reverend Shaw Moore, a role Mr Essex took on in the West End, in the Worcester Operatic and Dramatic Society Youth Section (WODYS) production at Worcester's Swan Theatre from Tuesday, August 5 to Saturday, August 9.

He said: "Chatting to David really boosted my confidence and encouraged me to take the role from a new perspective. He advised me on believing the role and to have truth and meaning in my words.

"I greatly appreciated the time David took to talk to me and the sound advice he gave me".

Matthew, a Worcester Royal Grammar School pupil, even managed to get an autograph for his mum.

Mr Essex performed in Footloose at the Novello in 2006. The musical, based on the 1984 film, is set in the small backwater American town of Bomont where the Rev Shaw Moore has banned dancing in a well-meaning but ill-judged attempt to keep residents out of trouble.

Over the course of the show, which involves 70 eight to 18 year-olds, Ren, played by Jack Cashion, challenges Moore's authority.

Speaking about Footloose, Mr Essex said: "I went to see it and was really struck by the talent of the cast and the energy, and I had to do it. I had a happy time. A great show, with a great song for Matthew to sing."