The eighties are back in all of their neon tinted glory, and setting off on tour across the UK. Look out your legwarmers because Flashdance the Musical is an absolute crowd-pleaser. It’s been almost ten years since its last tour and the musical, written by Tom Hedley, Robert Cary and Robbie Roth, has all the pulling power of the original film.
Pittsburgh factory worker and welder extraordinaire, Alex Owens, dreams of a better life, a life filled with dance. Settling for a few nights dancing at Harry’s bar isn’t enough, and she plucks up the courage to apply to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy. She’s also got a new love interest in the form of Nick Hurley, who happens to be the boss’s son.
There are a couple of side plots, like best friend Gloria being drawn into a seedy world of lap dancing and drugs while her comedian boyfriend, Jimmy, is failing to make it big in New York. These added bits of plot mean that none of the storyline can be explored too deeply and it all feels a little skimmed over.
But no-one is really there for the plot. Audiences are buying tickets for those big song and dance classics everyone remembers from the movie, and they aren’t disappointed. By the first outing of ‘Maniac’ just four songs in, the audience are already whipped to a frenzy.
As Alex Owens, Joanne Clifton is a triple threat. We knew she could dance, but she wowed us all with a fantastic vocal performance which near lifted the roof of the King’s Theatre in Glasgow. Ben Adams as Nick Hurley, is incredible. Bringing impeccable vocals, a rarely heard perfect American accent and, despite his protestations, pretty good dance moves. Adams may be more used to stadium gigs with his bandmates, but he gives an A1 West End performance in Flashdance.
When Clifton and Adams sing together it’s as close to perfection as you will get, their duets of ‘Here and Now’ and ‘Hang On’ are sublime. A few sound issues plagued opening night, meaning the music sometimes drowned out the rest of the cast. That overzealous plot means they don’t really get the chance to shine either, but Sasha Latoya as Louise, and Colin Kiyani as Jimmy, do stand out. Of course, the ensemble dancers really take the limelight with some powerful routines choreographed by Matt Cole.
Director Hannah Chissick has certainly captured the spirit of the movie, with an industrial style set that utilises steel and digital projections to bring the eighties to life. Those famous scenes definitely take on a new lease of life when seen live. Flashdance The Musical takes all the best parts of a well-loved movie and adds some extra magic, audiences up and down the country will be left with what a feeling when they are on their feet and begging for more.
Photos: Brian Hartley