City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Flashdance: The Musical

By Lindsay Corr - Posted on 18 September 2008

Flashdance: The Musical
Show Details
Kenny Leon (Director), Arlene Phillips (choreographer), Tom Hedley and Robert Cary (Book), Robbie Roth (Music), Robert Cary and Robbie Roth (Lyrics), Paul Farnsworth (Set and Costume Design)
Victoria Hamilton- Barritt (Alex Owens), Noel Sullivan (Nick Hurley), Bernie Nolan (Hannah Owens), Bruce Langley (Jimmy Kaminsky)
Running time: 

The new trend for recreating popular 80s dance films as fully fledged live
musicals continues as Flashdance explodes
onto the stage, hot on the tracks of other adaptations like Footloose and Dirty Dancing.

The iconic film was a 1983 box office success despite critics negative
remarks about the unbelievable storyline and controversy over leading lady Jennifer
Beals doing very little of the “Flashdancing”. However, if you’re not a fan of
the movie, don’t let that put you off catching the live, updated show. Reworked
for today’s audience, this Flashdance is
more exciting than its silver screen predecessor, and a hell of a lot cooler.

The stage version retains the bare bone Cinderella story structure of the
film – we follow the story of Alex (Victoria Hamilton-Barritt), a female welder
by day and exotic dancer by night as she struggles against the economic backdrop
of the 80s and lacks the self-belief to realise her dream of joining the prestigious
Shipley ballet school, while being pursued by presumed yuppie and new boss Nick
(Noel Sullivan). New additions include the role of Hannah (Bernie Nolan) as
Alex’s supportive mother determined to see her daughter’s dreams come true and weak-willed
waster Jimmy (Bruno Langley) who will do anything to get a break.

From the opening scene of the ‘Working Man’s Orchestra’, set against the
drilling and pounding atmosphere of the steel workers’ life through to the daring
nightmare ballet sequence in Act 2, this production is fresh, energetic and
bold. Featuring the memorable scenes from the movie interspersed with new
storylines, it’s all played out against a scorching score of new songs especially composed for the touring musical and a string of hits from the original soundtrack including ‘Manhunt’, ‘Maniac’, ‘Gloria’ and, of course, ‘What a Feeling’.

Taking inspiration from all avenues, Flashdance plays out like the love
child of modern musicals like Rent and
modern dance films like Step Up,
while retaining nostalgic value which is superbly executed through Arlene
Phillips’ diverse, exciting and extremely sexy choreography; delivered
exuberantly by a superb ensemble of dancers who have all been given a chance to
display their body-popping talents. Kenny Leon’s direction marries perfectly
with the dance sequences as the spoken scenes retain vitality and are delivered
with warmth and humour.

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt in the lead role is an inspiration. She is fresh,
beautiful, warm, has a belter of a voice and dance moves that stir awe in the
engrossed audience. Bernie Nolan easily captivates and the duets between mother
and daughter are beautifully composed and delivered. Bruno Langley as Jimmy
shows acting doesn’t have to take a back seat in musical theatre, as he
twitches about the stage in his grey hoodie and delivers his number, ‘You Can’t
Keep Me Down’, with understated aplomb and Noel Sullivan has found his forte in
musical theatre; his velvet tones are a joy and he takes to the role of
uptight, awkward Nick with loveable affection.

Nothing about Flashdance is groundbreaking, but you cannot deny the fresh
energy unleashed by a talented creative team and cast who tick every box and
then some.

This is a fast-paced, thumping and raunchy production that will have
you shimmying in your seat. This is a modern musical with real vigour that
proves irresistible.

© Lindsay Corr, September 2008

Flashdance is on at the Edinburgh
Playhouse until Saturday 20th September - Box Office tel: 08448471660