REVIEW: FLASHDANCE (Milton Keynes Theatre) ★★★

Another classic 80s film dances onto the stage, this time the turn of Flashdance, directed by Hannah Chissick.

It’s another movie I keep meaning to watch, but have never got around to. Girl meets boy… boy and girl have ‘different lives’ but she has a talent and that’s worth more than money. General 80’s spin. But there’s the promise of that song and dance, so what’s not to like?

Unfortunately, it actually falls a little flat. The story is disjointed and a bit confusing, with very short scenes that don’t really help to explain what’s going on. We never actually know much about the characters, or even where they work or what they do – but this isn’t a crucial part of the plot. What is important doesn’t really get much stage time. There’s a love story, of course. And an argument, some morals and a lot of dancing. A predictable death that leads to a moment of inspiration and a very unrealistic ending.

It’s fun and lighthearted, with good songs (most of which are original) that are catchy, plus a few classic songs we all know (such as Maniac and, of course, What a Feeling) from the film.

While Matt Cole’s choreography is good, the famous dance that is much talked of it is the sort of thing I’d expect any number of teenagers to perform in their room when expressing themselves. It was disappointing, especially as I know that Joanne Clifton is a fantastic dancer – she feels wasted.

However, I did not know that she was a fantastic singer and her voice really is incredible. She brings a wonderful energy to her performance and she is sassy and bold as Alex should be. Ben Adams is pleasing as Nick Hurley – his pop band voice suiting the role very well. Their chemistry is also very believable.

Hollie-Ann Lowe (Gloria) has a sweet vulnerability, but a powerful voice, while Carol Ball (Hannah) manages to make the most of a small part, that seems overlooked considering her key role in the story. I’m not 100% sure what her relationship to Alex was, or why she didn’t teach her ballet, but it made for some nice scenes (despite her very obvious demise).

The overall production itself is very good, but a lack of a clear story is a shame. It may be a famous film, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has seen it and considering the show was written to give the characters ‘more depth’, I dread to think how much personality they lack in the film.

Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes


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