Flashdance The Musical (Musical Theatre Review)

Flashdance is the classic 80s film about ‘small-town girl’ Alex Owens achieving her dreams of being a professional dancer – so of course, it was an obvious addition to the glut of 80s film adaptation musicals from the 00s. A struggle against adversity, a little romance, classic 80s tunes and plenty of dancing, these films usually provide just enough content to hang a musical on. Their popularity is of course fuelled by the irrepressible nostalgia of kids who grew up watching the films, but there usually is an element of adding additional storylines, changing or melding characters or other changes in order to offer the voracious audience ‘something more’.

This is true of Flashdance: The Musical, and there are several amended storylines and characters, as well as the addition of some new music. Of course, some of the classic songs from the movie are included (Gloria, Maniac, What A Feeling etc) and these provide most of the memorable moments in this production. Matt Cole’s choreography of these familiar numbers is particularly good, with ‘Maniac’ providing the most feel good vibes of the night. It’s somewhat unfortunate then that the book and additional songs are not that memorable, but it almost doesn’t matter, thanks to the powerhouse that is Joanne Clifton.

She is a feisty and fun Alex, and her hard-working performance really carries this production through. She is energy personified. Naturally, her dancing is such fun to watch (they even manage to shoehorn a Strictly joke in!) but her voice and acting are also very strong. Following her fantastic performance in Thoroughly Modern Millie, it’s clear she has some more thrilling performances to come.

Ben Adams also does well as love interest Nick Hurley, and he and Clifton share a great rapport on stage. Their duet of ‘Here and Now’ is another highlight, and it’s enjoyable to watch the romance unfold. Adams seems to have a lot of fun with his scenes and anyone who grew up in the 90s will appreciate the familiar but matured tones of his voice. (Old crushes die hard, admittedly!) Adams laid-back cool is a great foil for Clifton’s effervescence, and these two do a great job pushing the story through the slightly clunky dialogue.

The supporting cast are also working hard here – big, bold choreography as well as transitioning the huge steel style set. However, dance is the king here… perhaps understandably. The ensemble are wonderful dancers, and when given a chance to shine really light up the stage. However, a seasoned eye will be able to see there are certain ‘tricks of the trade’ happening at points of the production, but it is probably forgivable in the name of entertainment. Particularly great performances from Sasha Latoya as carer Louise and Colin Kiyani as Jimmy which help jolly things along, and Carol Ball as mentor Hannah is a warm and engaging presence. Rhodri Watkins also has a nice energy and relationship with the audience.

Overall, this is a vibrant production, full of colour, choreography, and, well… flash. It’s a great vehicle for Clifton and Adams and provides a suitably enjoyable evening out for those surfing the nostalgia wave or looking for some thrilling choreography. Whilst the somewhat plodding book may not stand up to much scrutiny, there’s fun to be had here, and let’s face it, you probably will walk out humming What A Feeling and leaping home.

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