Culture critic Holly enjoys a new twist on a festive classic at the RSC.Written by Holly Reaney on 17th December 2017
Flashdance The Musical: Review
Culture editor Hannah Brierley enjoys an energetic and fun loving performance of Flashdance at The New Alexandra
Flashdance is feel-good, no-fuss entertainment, full of fluorescent 80s fun. Its very much in the same category of musical as Footloose or Dirty Dancing; showcasing a particular era, with a leading couple in love, a famous film origin and a ridiculous amount of complex choreography at its core. Dance is the main focus of this musical, whilst the storyline never goes into too much depth. The audience are introduced to Alex Owens, an 18-year-old welder by day and dancer by night in Harry’s bar. She aspires to train at prestigious Shipley Dance Academy, although she definitely has the passion she lacks the formal training. Romance blossoms between herself and the bosses’ son Nick Hurley, but their background in different worlds begins to take its toll. Meanwhile her best friend Gloria is seduced into a seedy strip club in a desperate attempt to chase success, whilst her boyfriend Jimmy, a failing comedian, is similarly trying to follow his dreams and has ran off to New York to try and make a career. At times the side stories were more intriguing than the central couple’s which was sometimes skimmed over. But you don’t go to see Flashdance for the narrative, its all about those crowd pleasing, show shopping song and dance numbers full of eighties flare and there were certainly plenty of those. There was a ripple of excitable enthusiasm that ran through the audience every time a well-known number started such as Maniac, Manhunt, I Love Rock n Roll and of course the incredible What a Feeling as though they wanted to jump up on stage and join in.
“Full of fluorescent 80s fun!
Joanne Clifton, ex Strictly Come Dancing professional and winner of last season, was obviously exceptional in the dance numbers demonstrating her incredible athleticism. Although she wasn’t quite a triple threat, due to at times quite cringe-worthy over acted scenes, her voice was outstanding and she really suited the iconic lead. Ben Adams, lead singer of the band A1, was brilliant as Nick Hurley. Although his tone of voice did definitely sound more Boyzone than musical theatre it suited the 80s vibes and was note perfect throughout, their chemistry was also believable making the duets like Here and Now very moving.
“They performed ridiculously difficult dance moves that had the audience gasping in awe
It wasn’t just the leads who stood out however, the multitude of characters meant the talent of the cast was emphasised throughout. Colin Kiyani stood out as the lovable and naïve Jimmy, as did Sia Dauda and Demmileigh Foster as Tess and Kiki as they managed to match their impeccable vocals with ridiculously difficult dance moves that had the audience gasping in awe, their dressing room song Put in On was fantastic flirty fun, as were their solos. Sasha Latoya managed to impress even with the relatively minor role of Louise, handling those one word puns with comical professionalism. More could have been done with Hannah, played by Carol Ball, who’s death was basically brushed over. However, it is supposed to be a feel good musical so its understandable why moments of sadness are moved past quickly, it just could have added a bit more depth. Takis’ set essentially consisted of big steel looking stairs and a balcony that was moved by the cast to create different scenes. A projected screen added an innovative technical element that allowed them to change the look of the scene with video footage, including spray painting the iconic pink ‘Flashdance’ at the beginning. An error box did awkwardly appear at one point but this was quickly dealt with and overall it was a nice addition to the set.
“Flashdance the musical is unapologetically cheesy and a definite crowd pleaser.
The heart of this musical is the choreography. Matt Cole did a brilliant job, with extremely intricate and incredibly athletic movements, a fusion of ballet, jazz and of course the flashy high kicks and work-out video vibes of 80s dance style. There’s big hair, bigger jumps, high waisted knickers and neon leg warmers galore. There’s straddle jumps, splits and lifts that’ll have you holding your breath. Flashdance the musical is unapologetically cheesy and a definite crowd pleaser. Everyone was up on their feet for the finale clapping and singing along, wishing you could don some leg warmers and boogie down the aisle.