Touring – reviewed at New Wimbledon Theatre, London
Based on the 1983 film (which I’ve never seen), Flashdance is the story of Alex Owens, a welder who dreams of being a dancer but has had no formal training. She plucks up the courage to apply to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and also meets a new love interest on the way who just so happens to be the boss’ son. There are a number of side plots, like the mechanics facing jobs losses, Gloria being drawn into a seedy
There are a number of side plots, like the mechanics facing jobs losses, Gloria being drawn into a seedy drug-filled world and her boyfriend Jimmy attempting to make it as a comedian in New York but these feel a little unnecessary. They’re obviously added in to pad out the show but I felt it would have flowed better without them as they’re not explored enough to add much.
But let’s be honest, people don’t go to Flashdance for the plot. They’re there for the big money numbers and nostalgia for the classics they remember, something which the show certainly provides. The instantly recognisable ‘Maniac’, ‘What a Feeling’ and ‘Gloria’ have the audience excited and invested whilst most of the other songs are not particularly memorable. That’s not to say that the vocal performances aren’t brilliant though. Ben Adams gives a strong performance as the misguided, rich boy, Nick Hurley. His popstar vocals are not those typically heard in musical theatre but they work well in the show and his rendition of ‘Enough’ was especially good.
Joanne Clifton is outstanding as Alex. Obviously she’s known for her dance skills but seeing them life and with so much energy is spectacular to see on stage. Vocally she is also strong and her acting stood up well within the cast and she is a very solid lead. I was particularly impressed by Hollie-Ann Lowe who showed a number of sides to Gloria as well as some lovely vocal moments. A special mention must go to Colin Kiyani (Jimmy) who’s voice is beautiful and I got major Ben Platt vibes during ‘Where We Belong’.
Matt Cole’s choreography is definitely the highlight of the production; tight and sleek throughout it provides some wow moments of impact. One thing I didn’t like was the use of click tracks during some of the ensemble dance numbers such as ‘I Love Rock and Roll’. I completely understand how demanding it is to do the energetic choreography at the same time as singing but it just felt a little obvious to me and could have been covered up more. However, the performances were still great.
This is definitely a feel good musical, whilst it does look at some darker themes, they are definitely not what you focus on. It’s more of a drama with music but the energetic and sharp performances are enough to draw you in and will certainly leave you tapping your feet!
Flashdance runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until October 7th