There’s one big 80s revival happening at the Regent Theatre this week, and LIVING happily got to live it all over again. Flashdance The Musical is going to throw you back but lift you up!
Oh what a feeling! Flashdance is in town and it didn’t disappoint. With Strictly Come Dancing’s Joanne Clifton and A1’s Ben Adams (yes, the one everyone fancied from that ’90s boy band) in the leading roles, we were expecting good things, and thankfully they gave us just what we wanted. An ’80s mega-mix of jaw-dropping dance moves, rocking tunes, bad perms and completely excessive costumes, and they even recreated the iconic water scene too.
Flashdance The Musical is the stage adaptation of the 1983 musical film by Tom Hedley. It first hit the UK stage in 2010, and has since embarked on a huge worldwide tour. But now it’s back, better than ever, with a great cast, masses of energy and a timeless story of pride, prejudice, hope, desire and, of course, love.
We follow the lives of a group of hard-up Pittsburgh steelworkers, in particular Alexandra (“Alex”) Owens, played by Strictly Come Dancing Champion, Joanne Clifton. Alex dances in a local club at night but dreams of becoming a professional dancer. She manages to get a coveted audition at the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy, but unbeknownst to her, it has been set up by her new boyfriend, and son of her steelworks boss, Nick Hurley, played by Ben Adams. Intertwined with this are secondary storylines, including: Gloria, Alex’s best friend, and her boyfriend Jimmy, who are desperate to make it in show business; as well as elderly friend Hannah, a retired dancer, and Alex’s confidante; and Nick Hurley, who wants to stand up and fight against impending job cuts at the factory.
Playing Alex, Clifton was brilliant; she looked amazing and her energy on stage was electrifying. Her dancing was obviously going to be good (we’ve all seen her moves on Strictly), but she has an equally amazing singing voice too. Belting out tune after tune with great depth and vigour. Ben Adams still has all that cheeky charisma we fell in love with twenty-years ago; he even dared to show us some of his moves during the curtain call. There were moments of brilliance during the duets and you could tell he now belongs on stage, finally shaking off that boy band image. Clifton had to cope with a couple of awkward on-stage outfit changes (more like removals) in the first act, but she handled them well.
A special nod should also go to Hollie – Ann Lowe, who played the downtrodden best friend, Gloria, desperate for stardom, but instead lured by false promises into working for a strip club and taking drugs. Her voice was fantastic, as was her dancing, and her rendition of the classic ‘Gloria’ was a definite highlight of the night.
The entire cast were engaging, enthusiastic and exciting, and the choreography, curated by Matt Cole, was outstanding; the big showcase dances were phenomenal, and it’s here where Clifton’s unbelievable talents really shone through. You could see the passion and dedication etched on her face and you felt every move.
The set design was intriguing; many of the scenes, especially those depicting the ‘changing rooms’ of the nightclub, were played out high up on top of two sets of stage stairs, which made it a little difficult to see the emotions of the actors at pivotal parts of the story, but it did gave the show a little more variation. The design team also portrayed parts of the set through video visuals, which gave much more depth and understanding to the production. It all worked well, and the audience was happily swept up further into the story with every scene.
To be fair to the cast, it was a dreary Monday evening in Stoke-on-Trent, so it did take a little while for the audience to warm up, even though we were loving it inside; but in the end, everyone was up on their feet, singing, clapping and swaying. Joanne, Ben and the entire company worked hard for it, but it was a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.
Trust me, you’ll have those tunes on your mind for days. And i’m sure you’ll also try out your dancing shoes too. Loved it.
Flashdance The Musical is on at The Regent, Stoke-on-Trent until Saturday 30th September. Tickets are available from The Regent Theatre Box Office, or by calling 0844 871 7649.