Show: Flashdance – The Musical
Society: New Wimbledon Theatre (professional)
Venue: New Wimbledon Theatre
Credits: Book by Tom Hedley & Robert Cary. Music by Robbie Roth. Lyrics by Robbie Roth and Robert Cary. Produced by Selladoor Productions and Runaway Entertainment.
Performance Date: 03/10/2017
Flashdance the Musical
Paul Johnson | 04 Oct 2017 22:00pm
Joanne Clifton as Alex and Ben Adams as Nick with the Flashdance Company. Photo: Brian Hartley
Not surprisingly, Selladoor’s new touring production, based on 1983’s $200m worldwide smash-hit movie, is ALL about the dancing… well, that and an extremely loud 1980s musical backdrop.
Throw in a generous helping of leg-warmers, racing bikes, jacket sleeves pulled up to the elbows (Miami Vice style), an iconic water-drop and an auditorium filled with whooping musical theatre fans universally waiting for the first melodic hint of “What a Feeling” to kick in – and you might rightly guess that Flashdance the Musical has splashed down at New Wimbledon Theatre.
Current Strictly champion, Joanne Clifton, takes on the role made famous by Jennifer Beals’ big-screen portrayal, and by all accounts she’s having the time of her life. Clifton’s limitless energy and constant smile makes the super-fit dancer both mesmerising and exhausting to watch. Talent doesn’t begin to describe the bubbly blonde whose vocal delivery and comic-timing also impress (not that there’s an overabundance of acting involved). In a pre-tour interview I did with Clifton she confirmed that her defection from ballroom to musical theatre was a permanent one and I can only say that musical theatre will be all the stronger for it.
What’s more the BBC’s dance champion has also just officially announced her extension to cover the show’s lead role throughout the tour’s 2018 dates. Despite the urge to presume that the decision was purely down to the love of performing, at the back of my mind I can’t help wondering how much the presence of Ben Adams in the cast list might have helped. I’ve seen some convincing onstage kisses in my time but the pair’s chemistry on press night in SW19 was off the chart! We’ll leave it there, but remember you read it here first!
Adams, who plays factory boss, Nick Hurley (Alex’s employer) does well to enable the 80s style to reach modern audiences with an unmistakable ‘boyband’ sound to his vocal; if I closed my eyes it could almost have been Boyzone’s Stephen Gately up there. MD George Carter’s band provides an equally full accompaniment, where 80s hits such as Maniac, Gloria, Manhunt, I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll and of course What a Feeling are all given an up-to-date treatment in this welder-by-day, dancer-by-night tale.
Auditions must have been demanding for this show, directed by Hannah Chissick, as the ten-strong ‘dancing’ company are completely on top of their game and undoubtedly leaders in their field; surely Joanne Clifton is constantly being kept on her toes in this nightly keep-fit workout to end all workouts.
As mentioned previously, the story gets a little lost under Matt Cole’s brilliant and full-on choreography, but no-one seems to mind. This show provides routine after routine of top-drawer performances and I should think most Flashdance audiences will expect exactly nothing less. I would question the inclusion of (what is becoming a standard practice nowadays) a ‘mega-mix’ style finale when the audience are not only expected but actually ‘told’ to get up on their feet …booking your own standing ovation is a definite sign of the times but, again, last night no-one cared. I’m obviously getting old.
For more information and dates go to:
Flashdance Company. Photo: Brian Hartley
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- : 03/10/2017