Touring – reviewed at New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Having only seen the original film once before, I have to admit the plot behind Flashdance was a little bit of a mystery coming in to watch the latest touring production – except for knowing there was a lot of the dancing involved.
For those (like me) who are uncertain of the plot, Flashdance concentrates on welder Alex who dreams of dancing and attending Shipley academy, while along the way she enters a relationship with the charming Nick Hurley. There are also other subplots that link in with the main story including the less successful ambitions of Alex’s friends Gloria and Jimmy who are desperate to make the big time.
Directed by Hannah Chissick, the production to its credit is packed with excellent choreography by Matt Cole – including electrifying sequences during ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ and ‘Manhunt’ for example. There is no denying its energy and there is a sense of entertainment about it throughout – it is just a shame that at times Tom Hedley and Robert Cary’s book lets the story down slightly as well as not giving the characters as much depth as needed.
Musically, it is also slightly hit and miss with ‘Steeltown Sky’ not proving to be the most effective opener – lacking the punch to get the audience going, while ‘Chameleon Girls’ feels slightly sleazy and uncomfortable to watch as well as listen to. But there are still some lovely numbers created by Robert Cary and Robbie Roth, including the beautiful duet ‘Here and Now’ towards the end of the first act and ‘My Turn’.
But production wise, Chissick has managed to create a show which captures the flavour of the 1980s and the spirit of the original film, really focusing on the dancing element and celebrating it that makes it a joy to watch. At times it does feel like there is a lot of filler provided by subplots – but given the simplicity of the plot perhaps this is to be expected.
In terms of performances, there is plenty to enjoy – even if at times some of the accents lack in consistency. Joanne Clifton is wonderfully athletic as Alex – with the choreography showcasing her skills perfectly, particularly during ‘What a Feeling’. In terms of her performance as Alex, her character is a great balance of feistiness mixed with a hint of vulnerability and loneliness that makes her easy to root for throughout – even if you already know how the story ends.
Elsewhere, Ben Adams as Nick is charismatic and likeable – making a nice contrast to Clifton’s strong and independent spirt. Vocally, he is strong as the number ‘Enough’ proves, warm and heartfelt throughout – it is an endearing performance. Other standout performances come in the shape of Colin Kiyani’s immensely likeable Jimmy, Rikki Chamberlain’s long suffering Harry and Matt Concannon’s immensely unlikeable and sleazy CC.
There is no doubt that Flashdance is entertaining – but there are problems with the script which doesn’t allow for much character development and lets the production down slightly.