WHAT A FEELING...I felt when I left The Palace Theatre in Manchester. Yes, that’s right - IT IS BACK!
Adapted from the 1983 musical film, Flashdance The Musical is back with its NEW UK Tour. And quoting directly from the programme “Nobody was expecting Flashdance to be a hit” any doubts I had as a first time audience member certainly were quickly washed away through the explosion of choreography that filled the stage at The Palace Theatre in Manchester tonight.
Flashdance The Musical tells the story of an aspiring young dancer Alex Owens, who is a working-class female welder during the day but transforms into a dancer when night falls. Her dreams of joining Shipley Dance Academy are supported throughout the musical by an ageing, retired dance teacher Hannah – whose character for me supports the story line very well. We follow Alex’s journey through her romance with Nick Hurley which threatens to destroy Alex’s dreams of joining Shipley Academy, as her determination to succeed through her own hard work is tainted by Hurley’s foolish decision to intervene (but bless him he was only trying to help - can’t men do anything right?).
As the curtain raised on Act One I was full of excitement (as where all the audience) but the opening of the show lacked something for me and it took a few minutes in my opinion to warm up in terms of presence, maybe it was down to nerves but I was expecting a little more BANG and it was a little lukewarm. Nevertheless, when it got hot...it got HOT! I have to firstly mention the choreography, I personally give a round of applause to Matt Cole for his array of dynamic, sleek and bold choreography including some beautifully crafted double work sections - in particular ‘Maniac’ which cleverly incorporated capes and left me wanting more. I have no shame in saying Cole’s choreography is probably one of the best I have seen grace the stage in a musical yet. However, due to the pace and demand of the choreography it did mean that at times the timing was not always perfect from those performing it. To an untrained eye in the audience it wouldn’t be an issue, but at times the execution although powerful was slightly erratic but hopefully throughout the development in the tour this will be ironed out but a shout-out for the stamina levels of ensemble dancers within the production - as somebody sitting near me described it as ‘a marathon on stage’. Joanne Clifton took on the role of leading lady Alex and although a Strictly Come Dancing champion it was her vocals that shone in tonight’s performance for myself, a performance she should be proud of as Alex tonight. Nick Hurley, the love interested of Alex was portrayed by boyband A1's Ben Adams and once again you can’t deny his vocal ability too but it was far too ‘pop’ for my liking and it clashed when singing together with Clifton losing the feeling of a musical - I think this will be like marmite for those attending you will either like it or not.
Performance of the night has to be shared between Hollie-Ann Lowe as Gloria, who is a commanding performer with beautiful stage presence and strong vocal & dance ability and Sia Dauda who’s portrayal of Kiki can only be describe as FEIRCE...if I was attracted to females I would want to be found in her ‘Manhunt’ that’s for sure. I could mention all named characters for various reasons but overall a very STRONG unit of people who each put full commitment into their roles when on stage. I thought the set design worked brilliantly for this production, with the movement of two large triangle set pieces and stairs being the basis of all scenes - it worked really well with slick transitions, a modern design that paid off. In terms of musical numbers, Flashdance The Musical has strong array of well written songs and even an addition of ‘I love Rock and Roll’ which works well. It would also be rude of me not to mention that I think this musical has one of the best finales I have seen to date, giving the chance for everybody on the stage to showcase why they do what they do for a living which is a rarity. It shows an appreciation for those working in the production.
Overall, this is a strong production with an even stronger cast. Well Done Selladoor Worldwide. If you get the opportunity to see it, take it and run like the wind.
Reviewer: Daniel Cox
Reviewed: 12th February 2018
North West End Rating: ★★★★★