Monday, 7 May 2018

Nottingham Theatre Royal.
Alex Owens (Joanne Clifton) is a beautiful young woman who works a day job in a steel mill and dances in a bar at night. When Alex discovers that her handsome boss, Nick Hurley (Ben Adams), is both interested in her and supportive of her performing career, she renews her efforts to get accepted into a prestigious dance conservatory. Although Alex is frightened of failure, she is cheered on by Nick, as well as by her mentor, former ballet performer Hanna Long (Carol Ball).
When the casting director put together this cast, the choices could not have been better. Joanne Clifton from Strictly Come Dancing is the perfect choice as dancer Alex, and no one can deny that the handsome ex A1 boyband lead singer does not match the criteria for Nick Hurley. His voice still as good as it ever was, but that;s because his career as a singer/songwriter has never ceased.
No surprise then with the cast, but one big surprise in Joanne's singing. Who would have thought that this very sexy dancer could also have such a great voice as well. She matched Ben's voice all the way through, and in the duets there was a real spark, In fact the chemistry between these two leads seemed very real, or maybe they are just really good actors!
I also need to mention Hollie-Ann Lowe who played a wonderful Gloria and Sasha Latoya who brought some lovely comedy touches as Hanna's carer/home help Louise.
That said, the supporting cast and ensemble all did a great job in every aspect of this lively musical which won't tax the brain. Sometimes it's nice just to let something fluffy blow away the cobwebs of your working week and leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated and send you out dancing into the streets.
Choreographed by Matt Cole, and when you have a dancer of the quality of Joanne Clifton, the rest of the ensemble really do have to be good, and they are. There's an explosion of energy from the stage that makes you want to get up and dance.
As for the costumes, it may be a long time before I get Joanne's costumes out of my mind, and everyone else's were typical 80's fluorescent dance wear, also creating a visual treat.
What also makes this musical exciting is the lighting design (Andrew Ellis) but I'm not sure if it was being opening night in Nottingham but the sound was just a little over powering in the uptempo numbers, quite often drowning the vocals. The ballads were so much easier on the ear.
Directed by Hannah Chissick, she kept everything tight and the scene changes were incorporated into the action or behind the ballads in the shadows of the musical, making everything unobtrusive and smooth.
The band, under the musical direction of George Carter, were crisp and tight, producing those magical music moments from the film. "Maniac", "Gloria" and of course "Flashdance - What A Feeling", as well as a rocking version of "I Love Rock n Roll".
My only wish though was that the build up in the choreography to the iconic scene where Alex pulls the water over her while draped over the chair, wasn't a bit longer, it all seemed to happen so fast, but a great way to end Act One.
"Flashdance" is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 12 May 2018.

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