REVIEW: Flashdance the musical, UK Tour ✭✭✭

Douglas Mayo reviews Flashdance the musical and finds there's lots of flash but little substance to this stage adaptation of the iconic eighties film.

 

Flashdance UK Tour

Joanne Clifton as Alex Owens in Flashdance the musical

Flashdance The Musical
UK Tour
3 Stars
Flashdance UK Tour Schedule

Growing up in Australia, the introduction of MTV meant that one summer two films dominated the landscape thanks to the music videos that were created to accompany them. Those films were Footloose and Flashdance. There’s no doubt that the soundtracks for both of these films gave them an iconic status over the years and have now lead to both being adapted for the stage as big touring musicals. My thoughts on Footloose are a matter of record but how does Flashdance fare now that it too is out touring the UK?

The answer is not well.

Flashdance UK Tour

Ben Adams and the company of Flashdance. Photo: Brian Hartley

Joanne Clifton has the zest and drive of Alex Owens down perfectly. Flashdance is her story but it all just feels a bit superficial and that’s down to a poor book. Ben Adams makes a good Nick Hurley, caught between family business obligation and the greater good of his workforce. Some work needs to be done with his diction though which saw many of the lyrics lost. They are supported by some wonderful performances by Carol Ball (Hannah), Rikki Chamberlain (Harry), Matt Concannon (CC), Hollie-Ann Lowe (Gloria), Sia Dauda (Kiki) and Demmileigh Foster (Tess). The rest of the cast are putting in 110% and that effort really can’t be faulted. They are the main reason for this show’s three star rating.

Flashdance UK Tour

Joanne Clifton and the company of Flashdance

Many of the big numbers from the film are represented such as Maniac, Manhunt, and What A Feeling combined with a few big eighties hits inspire high-octane production numbers but it’s not enough to salvage the shoddy book and emotion-less feeling that this material exudes. It’s not the fault of the cast but there’s a lot of work to be done on the material itself and there’s no shortcut around that. What you are left with is a series of great productions numbers that have the audience wanting to have fun but no show to support them.

Hannah Chiswick does her best to direct Flashdance but once again the material lets her down. The set design by Takis overcomplicates things. It’s incredibly busy and constantly moving, but the movement itself which is largely reliant on the cast is just too complicated and detracts from the show itself. You know what they say “less is more” and that is absolutely the case here.

Tom Hedley, Robert Cary, and Robbie Roth need to look at the lessons learnt from this production and almost start again. More depth and heart is required to match the exuberance of those incredible production numbers.

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