Grand Opera House York – until Saturday 2nd December. Reviewed by Michelle Richardson
Based on the 1983 film Flashdance, The Grand Opera House in York presents Flashdance The Musical in all its leg warmer and neon glory, as part of its UK tour.
Set in Pittsburgh, Alex Owens (Strictly Come Dancing’s Joanne Clifton) is an apprentice welder, the best they have ever had, but she dreams of a better life and dreams of dancing. A new recruit starts at the factory who takes a shine to Alex, but he turns out to be the owner’s son Nick Hurley (Ben Adams, formerly of the 1990’s group A1), who is there to make layoffs.
To make ends meet Alex has another job, dancing in Harry’s club, but this is so far removed from where she wants to be. Harry is struggling to keep going with the seedy club down the street stealing all the punters and trying to entice all his dancers, who are all adamant that they are staying put. Alex’s friend Gloria, at a low point, is seduced away by the creepy club owner CC, with promises of fame and fortune, which unfortunately doesn’t materialise and descends into drugs and stripping, unbeknownst to her. Oblivious to what is happening to her friend Alex plucks up the courage to apply for a place in the Shipley Dance Academy, where Nick is determined to give her a boost, but she is not interested, she wants to do it all on her own.
Clifton is certainly the all-round performer, singing, dancing and acting, with some impressive abs, maybe lacking the grit of Jennifer Beals portrayal in the movie, but she still delivers. I do have a small gripe I was distracted by her black eye makeup, just too much, silly I know but I could not get it out of my head. Adams certainly entertains us with his singing, as he should, as well as his acting, with a great American accent, and he even had a few dance moves thrown in, especially at the end with the cartwheel. They had great chemistry together which showed in their duets of Here and Now and Hang On. They were both the stars of the show and worthy of their billing. The support cast was very strong, both in their acting, singing and dancing, a credit to the whole show.
The staging was quite simple, but very effective, with the use of LED screens and staircases. The cast were utilised in moving the set to create the steelworks, bar, club and dance studio to great effect. The costumes were full on 80’s, spandex, neons and leg warmers galore.
There were a few sound issues with the music at times drowning out the vocals, this improved during the second half. The plot is a bit wishy washy, and rushed but that doesn’t really matter, no-one is really there for the plot. It’s all about the dancing, the music and the story of hopes and dreams, a step out of reality.
Overall this was a great fun production with fantastic song and dance routines. All the dancers were in incredible shape and showed such athletic skill, with the high kicks and so much energy, it made me tired just watching. A crowd pleasing show that had everyone up on their feet for an extended finale. It was also great to see so many bums on seats in the theatre, proving that the 80’s still rock.