Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
As a film loving teenager in the 80’s I’m not quite sure how I managed to miss seeing the hit film Flashdance. The surprise box office success became the third highest-grossing film of 1983 in the United States and the title song Flashdance… What a Feeling, written especially for the film, gave Irene Cara her only number 1. Flashdance is now a hit musical and we went to see the musical at Blackpool’s famous Opera House, where it is showing until Saturday 4th November.
Flashdance stars 18-year-old Alex, a welder by day and an exotic dancer by night. Despite her lack of formal training, she dreams of attending the esteemed Shipley Dance academy and encouraged by her friend Hannah, a former dancer, she fills in an application form. Like all good musicals this is a love story and Alex soon catches the eye of handsome Nick Hurley, whose father owns the steel works where Alex is employed. Nick tries to help Alex win a place at dance school but when Alex finds out she isn’t very happy as she wanted to succeed on her own merits.
This musical is very easy to watch and it doesn’t matter if you aren’t familiar with the story as it has to be said that there isn’t much of one! As you would expect there is plenty of singing and whilst the actors are most definitely great singers, this show is mainly about the dancing.
Joanne Clifton, a professional dancer and recent winner of Strictly Come Dancing is well chosen to play the lead role. She has great stage presence and combines her obvious dancing skills with a great voice too. The choreography by Matt Cole is outstanding, the cast didn’t put a foot wrong and some of the dance moves were simply amazing.
As well as following Alex and Nick’s story we meet Alex’s colleagues at the steel works as well as her friends and fellow dancers at the club. Gloria played by Hollie-Ann Lowe put on a convincing performance as we watch her life spiralling out of control after an ill-advised move to a local strip club and the accompanying drug addiction. She has also got a great voice, singing the melancholy “Gloria” with great feeling and emotion.
The set was quite basic, a steel frame backdrop onto which scenery is projected together with a pair of steel stairs. These are almost constantly in motion, changing from steel works to various clubs and apartments. During the dance numbers they also take a part in the choreography, being moved around whilst the cast use them as part of their dance routines.
Music taken from the film includes the title track, “Flashdance”, “Maniac” and “Gloria”. Also added for an extra kick is the Joan Jett hit “I Love Rock n Roll”. The sound quality during the opening song was a little muffled and I was initially worried that I’d struggle to understand the plot but not only did the vocals become clearer there was plenty of dialogue which made the show easy to follow.
This is a great show performed by a talented cast and is let down only by a limited storyline.
The audience seemed to enjoy the show and we drove home humming some of the tunes. We had a lovely night out and ended the evening with a drive through Blackpool’s famous Illuminations.
Tickets cost from £17 to £39.50 (booking fees may apply).
Flashdance is at the Blackpool Opera House from 23 October to 4 November 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk or call the box office on 0844 856 1111.
Winter Gardens & Opera House Theatre, 97 Church Street, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 1HL