Review: Flashdance ? What A Feeling!
- Credit: Brian Hartley
Fans of the 1980s music and dance scene were treated to a flashback of neon legwarmers and spandex leotards when a musical based on the 1983 hit film Flashdance opened at the Bristol Hippodrome last night.
The show revisits the huge craze for high-energy, synchronised group dance moves, at a time when Fame was the most-watched TV programme and films such as Footloose, Dirty Dancing and Grease gained a cult following, long before street dance was a thing.
Flashdance – The Musical tells the inspirational story of feisty 18-year-old Alex, a welder by day and a flashdancer in a club by night. She has dreams of going to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and becoming a professional dancer. But when romance with the boss’s son complicates her ambitions, she has to harness it to drive her dream forward.
By far the best thing about the show is the music – if you are a fan of the film like me then you’ll love this. And even if you are new to it you cannot fail to be blown away by the sheer energy generated by the phenomenal choreography. As soon as the opening bars to Maniac hit my ears I was transported back to my 13-year-old self prancing around my bedroom in gym leotard free-styling it and imagining myself in the film. Other crowd-pleasers are the awe-inspiring tune Gloria and I Love Rock & Roll, which was one of the best scenes of the show, plus the Oscar-winning title track Flashdance – What A Feeling.
Former Strictly Come Dancing champion and World Ballroom Showdance champion Joanne Clifton takes the lead role of Alex and proved to have an excellent singing voice to match her obvious dance prowess. She plays opposite former boyband frontman Ben Adams of A1 but still managed to mirror his singing talent and the two had a chemistry which made it very easy to buy into their love story.
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Other notable performances came from Demmileigh Foster as Tess, who belted out the aforementioned Joan Jett & The Blackhearts anthem with fantastic stage presence, using her dance training to great effect; understudy Emily Kenwright who proved more than capable of stepping into Gloria’s shoes to give an emotional portrayal of Alex’s friend who only wants to be a star but ends up on the wrong side of the tracks; and veteran musical actor Carol Ball as Alex’s mentor Hannah.
The staging is fantastic and picks up the greyness from the film’s backdrop perfectly with its fire escapes, garage, complete with welding tools, and dance studio of the industrial steel city of Pittsburgh.
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The show lacks some of the film’s smouldering intensity - even if it did keep in the infamous drainpipe shower scene – but it would be difficult to recreate the acrobatic moves to such a high-energy standard on stage when the actors have to sing as well, especially as a number of stunt dancers performed Alex’s routines in the film. But it is a thoroughly enjoyable romp of a musical which will have you clapping and singing along nontheless.
Flashdance – The Musical will be at the Bristol Hippodrome, in St Augustines Parade, until Saturday at 7.30pm.
There will be matinee performances at 2.30pm tomorrow and Saturday.
Tickets, priced £20.90- 59.40, are available at www.atgtickets/shows/flashdance/bristol-hippodrome or from 08448 713012.