FLASHDANCE THE MUSICAL AT BRADFORD
To transfer an iconic film of the 80’s to a stage musical is no easy task especially when the story is predictable and has little nor no substance.
First staged 10 years ago, Selladoor’s production , a re-invention of the original musical , at The Alhambra has its highs and lows.
An energetic and exuberant production with masterful command of its music by George Carter and his small band of five and dynamic choreography by Matt Cole – the show never reaches its full potential.
The weakest link is its design by Takis. Now I love moving platforms and stairways that make for a seamless production, but Flashdash has a veritable overdose of moving trucks, seats and staircases. There are just too many changes of rostra, steps, seats and lighting bars lowered up and down, sometimes only for the cast to deliver a few lines of dialogue. This is scene changing for the sake of it which makes the audience dizzy and lose their concentration of the plot. I felt sorry for the cast having to mount the stairs in one case for only six speeches.
Lighting-wise and effect wise do we really need all those blinding coloured lights and the lowering constantly of lighting bars. It’s as if the technical production manager has ordered every item in the lighting catalogue and is trying them all out together.
Yet when it comes to the main scene requiring the now iconic water scene – its like a damp squib. A mere trickle to what it should be and how it was in the original tour 9 years ago. This time it’s dispensed on a canvas drop – I’ve seen more water in a pantomime slosh scene.
Set in Pittsburgh, Flashdance, the musical, tells the story of Alex, a welder by day and dancer by night, whose dream is to obtain a place at the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and en route, just happens to fall in love with her boss – but a sugary fairy tale this is not.
For this musical is peppered with raunchy numbers, beautifully choreographed, that leave little to the imagination and at times it touches on the dark side, especially on the second act which graphically shows the seedy side of the downtown strip joints.
As Alex, Joanne Clifton, drives this show. This performer just gets better and better and what a contrast from her demure leading role in Thoroughly Modern Milllie less than a year ago. She is feisty yet shows some deep feeling especially into her vocal numbers, and it goes without saying can that girl can really dance. She’s one of the nicest things that’s happened to the musical theatre world for a long time.
A disappointment for me was that her final show stopping audition dance was cramped on a stage packed with other cast members. For maximum impact it really needs to be done as a solo on an empty stage. After all that’s the climax of the show.
As Nick Hurley,her love smitten boss, Ben Adams makes a valiant attempt and succeeds in putting the Mr Nice Guy character over. His vocals at times are a tad sketchy but in the duets Adams and Clifton blend beautifully – there’s only one thing missing – little or no visible on stage chemistry between them.
Adams and Clifton are supported by a great cast in the supporting roles who are truly believable and display great versatility.
Flashdance needs an outstanding cast of dancers and these boys and girls are truly magnificent. They just glide from one high-energy routine to another, negotiating as many character changes as they do costume changes.
With songs Manhunt, I Love To Rock and Roll, Gloria and of course What A Feeling, it’s a great dance experience to be savoured and a night of nostalgia for those who well remember the 80’s.
Runs until Saturday 7 April at The Alhambra, Bradford
Liz Coggins is a member of The Critics Circle.