Flashdance The Musical | Review
The show runs at the Grand Opera House, Belfast until Saturday 25 August.
Words: Chantelle Frampton
Tuesday night at the Grand Opera House was filled with glitter, bright colours, amazing dancing, and nostalgic 80s music. Flashdance The Musical brought its own interpretation of the 1983 classic to the stage and ensured that everyone will be singing ‘What a Feeling’ for weeks to come.
The evening began with a packed-out audience looking upon the huge pink and glittery Flashdance backdrop at the front of the stage. Suddenly, the stage lit up and we were thrown into 1983 Pittsburgh on the floor of Hurley Steel. The story follows Alex Owens, a young and talented welder whom also longs to be a professional dancer. From the very beginning, we know that Alex is a dreamer and is eager to leave the steelworks floor.
Joanne Clifton captured the essence of Alex perfectly. She very quickly established her character as an independent, determined and ‘no-nonsense’ young woman. When Joanne was onstage my eyes were firmly placed on her. Her vocals effortlessly filled the room and her dancing was nothing short of breath-taking. I believed every bit of her performance and found myself rooting for Alex from her first appearance onstage.
Alex’s love interest, whom happens to be her boss’s son, Nick Hurley is played by A1’s Ben Adams. Ben’s portrayal of Nick was spot on, with his convincing American accent and his natural suaveness every time he entered the stage. His vocals were strong, and he demonstrated that he can hold a stage on his own. There were a few instances where it was somewhat difficult to hear his articulation. This was a minor flaw and in no way detracted from his performance as a whole.
Throughout the musical, Nick and Alex are a somewhat realistic couple. Whilst it is romanticised to an extent it is not entirely idealistic. Alex, first, rejects him and they experience phases of romance and then arguments. However, Nick’s character is much more than just the boyfriend of Alex. He is the physical representation of two themes that were explored; the working-class struggle and class warfare. Yes, Flashdance is a fun and light-hearted musical, but they have managed to ensure that it is still relevant in 2018 as they delve into topics that are relatable. This is perfectly demonstrated in the song ‘Justice’. A point in which Nick is teased by the steelworkers for failing in courtship Alex.
As the evening progressed we were introduced to more backstories including Alex’s best friend Gloria (played by Hollie-Ann Lowe) and her dark journey into a life of drugs and alcohol. We’re also introduced to Gloria’s boyfriend Jimmy, an aspiring stand-up comic. The empathy and compassion that was instantly felt for all the characters were achieved by the astonishing musical numbers mixed with the intricate and exciting dance routines. There were moments throughout the evening where it was impossible to not look in awe with a huge smile across our face.
Every single cast member performed to perfection. Whilst the themes and individual character storylines felt a bit swept over at points, there was no doubt that the singing and dancing was the focal point. In my opinion, the star of the show was Joanne Clifton (Alex). Her interpretation of the iconic ‘water’ scene and the final dance was both captivating and exhilarating. She completely owned the stage and it was only right that the night ended with her dancing her heart out until the lights went black.
Flashdance The Musical is a feel-good performance that should be witnessed first-hand to truly appreciate it. It is not a simple rehash of the movie as it makes subtle changes to make it both stage worthy and relevant to a 2018 audience. The standing ovation at the end of the evening speaks volumes as to how much the opening night crowd enjoyed it.
Summer Issue of CultureHUB Magazine Out Now