Flashdance – Goodbye Steeltown Sky

I must confess I’ve never been mad about Flashdance but when it comes to my local theatre I’m naturally intrigued. I had heard good things about the show and, in particular, Joanne Clifton and Ben Adams. I was an A1 fan when I was younger and any excuse to see a teen heartthrob of mine is always a bonus.

The ensemble are all individually very talented and added a lot of sass and flair to the choreography. The issue is, as a group, they seem to be missing the concept of synchronisation which really threw me off. You would watch three girls do a high kick and they would all position their arms and heads differently which is incredibly distracting. Maybe I’m splitting hairs but when everyone is interpreting the choreography differently I don’t know where to look… the dancers don’t complement each other and, in all honesty, it looked like they were trying to out-dance each other.

Whilst we are on the subject of choreography, it didn’t do Strictly Star, Joanne, any justice whatsoever. She’s an incredible dancer and her freestyle at the end of the show proved that. However, the choreography felt rushed and it felt as though the music could’ve been slowed down slightly to give the dancers the opportunity to finish their lines. I appreciate that the number “Maniac” should feel slightly frantic but when the ensemble are out of sync, the music is too fast and there’s flashing lights to top it off, this just results in giving the audience sensory whiplash.

Former A1 star, Ben Adams, is undisputedly the star of this show for me. Yes, I was an A1 fan back in my younger days but that had no bearing over my enjoyment of this show. If anything, I was put off by it beforehand since I’m not a fan of parts being given to old pop stars or soap stars with the intention to sell more tickets. My views very quickly changed when, half an hour into the first act, he came gliding onto the stage and pulled a really decent number out of the bag and the ensemble gave the strongest performance they had done all night. Ben’s voice was brilliant and he saved the show by bringing a charm to the stage that was otherwise completely lacking. Had Ben been on stage more often the show may not have felt to have dragged on for quite as long as it did.

The story of Jimmy and Gloria is the typical side story of a best friend going off the rails and a man being her downfall and saviour. We aren’t given enough time to emotionally invest in them as a couple so when Jimmy announces his solo trip to the Big Apple and breaks Gloria’s heart, I didn’t really care. This then cues the poor vulnerable female to not cope without a man by her side and, naturally, becomes a stripper/prostitute to fill the void. This triggered the only part of the storyline that really did tug at the heartstrings… when she was working in the club with men leering at her and handing her dollar bills. It brought a lump to my throat because of the reality that this is what some women do go through, even if I did disagree with the clichéd events that had resulted in her being there.

The staging and costuming was also very sloppy and it distracts from the show. The biggest let down was the iconic “Flashdance” moment where Alex poses on the chair drenched in water. This big moment comes at the end of the first act and would’ve been much more impressive if we didn’t need to endure poor Joanne vigorously pulling the chain to release the water a good three or four times before it actually fell. Unfortunately the delay with getting the water released meant that the pose was so quick before the lights blacked out for the interval you didn’t even get time to appreciate it.

The other major staging issue was when Alex walks into her “walk-in wardrobe” to get changed whilst holding a conversation with Nick. This would’ve been much more believable had we not all been able to see her walk off the stage. I was sat on the opposite side of the stage to where the wardrobe was so, if I saw this, everyone did.

As for the costuming, I’m aware I sit near the stage so I make allowances for being able to see wig lace, the odd bra strap and a zip not quite done up. With this being said, I draw the line at someone having their flies undone for the whole first act and seeing more bras than I see in a trip Victoria’s Secret. One of the numbers required the girls to wear backless shirts, so when the girls turned around you were greeted by an assortment of beige and black bras. I’m not a costume designer but if you have to make costumes that are that revealing please, for the love of all that is holy, give the poor women matching underwear!

If you’re a die hard fan of the musical, it’s worth at least giving this one a shot because you know you’ll enjoy the music. I, personally, found too many flaws and got the impression it had been thrown together half-heartedly to make a quick quid. Ben Adams was a delight and Joanne worked well with what she was given. She is a phenomenal dancer with mediocre choreography and I commend her for pulling it off as well as she did. It’s a shame but that’s where my good points end and a lot of the show was quite disappointing, so I won’t be going back to see this one any time soon.

 

Picture courtesy of chroniclelive.co.uk

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