Flashdance: What a feeling!
In a word? Go! It's not every day a high-kicking, hair-flicking musical rolls into town - and if you were a kid of the 80s like me you're going to mainline nostalgia...
I’ve just got back from opening night of Flashdance, the musical, at the Assembly Hall theatre and although it’s super late (my carriage turned back into a pumpkin on the way home) I’m writing up this review so that you can be first in the know. In a word? Go! It’s not every day a high-kicking, hair-flicking musical rolls into town – and if you were a kid of the 80s like me you’re going to mainline nostalgia…
The lowdown: Based on the iconic 80s film this hit musical recreates the story of Alex Owens a girl who works as a welder during the day and a dancer in a bar by night and who dares to follow her dream of auditioning at a prestigious dance academy. It’s a romance too because she falls for love interest Nick Hurley. The music soundtrack needs no introduction – and all the film’s hit songs are included in here – but with singing added in for good measure.
Who’s in it? Alex is played by Joanne Clifton – the dancer who won the coveted glitterball trophy (alongside her partner Ore Oduba) in last year’s Strictly Come Dancing. She’s also previously toured the UK in Thoroughly Modern Millie, among others. The male lead, Nick, is played by Ben Adams former lead singer of boy band A1. I’m not too familiar with their music (sorry Ben) but turns out maybe I should have paid more attention – this guy really can sing.
The performance: This was opening night and there was a fairly major technical issue with the sound which meant the performance had to be paused while they reprogrammed every single mic – or something along those lines. And you know what? It didn’t matter one bit, because this is live theatre, it’s real and stuff happens. The issue was fixed and everyone seemed to be lifted as a result – Joanne valiantly ad-libbed a few one-liners and the show went on.
So we all knew Joanne Clifton could dance. And boy that girl has stamina. But the question on everyone’s lips at the pre-show drinks was – can she sing? Well it turns out she can, and she’s very good. In fact the whole cast were strong on vocals and high octane dance routines.
Who will like it? For any child of the 80s that loved the original film and knows every number lyric-for-lyric this is a must. And it’ll also go down well with anyone younger who more recently came across the story and songs (they are still popular today after all) – Joanne brings a modern updated energy to the story. There were a few kids in the crowd, I’d say they were all over 10 years old, but equally there were loads of 60-plus bopping along.
Bits I loved: I loved the fact they stayed so true to the original film, keeping that 80s vibe going (yeah, we all body popped back then) – and that whole theme that hard work and following your dream would come good for you in the end. A highlight for me was Joanne performing Maniac with all that manic running on the spot action – she’s really perfected that move. And of course the iconic moment where Alex sits on a chair in the club and gets soaked with water.
Bits I liked less: There’s a subplot running through the story, which stays true to the film but I’m just a big kid who is quite frankly all about the big music numbers. My friend said she didn’t get the slightly random I Love Rock and Roll dance which wasn’t in the original sound track. But I say, pah! She’s being a bit purist – I loved this bit simply because it was such a spectacle and if I could back flip like that, then frankly it would be the only way I travelled.
To sum up: If you loved the original film, GO SEE THIS SHOW! And even if you’ve never seen it before in your life but love a good dance and singalong then you’re also in for a treat. After all if you don’t know these numbers then you must have been living under a rock (and not a rock ‘n’ roll one). When What A Feeling, Maniac and Manhunt are belted out I defy you not to leap for your legwarmers, jump on stage and pull that shower cord.
What’s that you say? Oh you want to see a picture? Okay – I thought you’d never ask… Here you go then!