On Saturday night, after a long search for a show to see, I eventually found myself at Flashdance at the Shaftesbury Theatre with some lovely second row seats. I had heard the show is closing this coming Saturday (15th) so I thought I would check it out before it was too late.
Flashdance, based around the classic film, tells the story of Alex Owens, a welding apprentice who wants to dance. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like much of a storyline, but that’s just the main story. There are a few little intertwining stories, which I’m not going to go into – like to keep the reviews spoiler free!
I’m going to get straight to the point here and say I adored the show! If I’m completely honest, I’m not a huge fan of dance focused shows, and in fact Fame is one of my least favourite shows, but it was so fantastic to (finally!) see a dance focused show with a storyline and excellent acting to back up the electric dancing. From the minute the show started I was drawn right in and amazed by the dancing in front of me. The story is both gutsy and edgy, and there were definitely a few shocks in there.
One thing that made the show so fantastic was the stellar cast. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt plays a sassy Alex Owens, who dances and sings like a dream. She definitely is the stand out in what is an incredibly talented cast. Alex’s love interest, Nick Hurley, is played by Matt Willis (yes, formally of boy band, Busted). Willis proves he’s not just boy band fodder but a talented performer. The two leads are backed up by a fantastic ensemble, and mentions have to go to Charlotte Harwood, Twinnie Lee Moore and Hannah Levane as Alex’s three friends. Their powerhouse vocals almost take the roof off the theatre several times during the show and Charlotte Harwood in particular makes light work of a gritty sub plot involving her character. I also very much enjoyed the ensemble cast members who performed many of the dance scenes.
My favourite scene was most definitely the audition scene at the end of the show in which the iconic Flashdance dance is recreated. Obviously it is not completely the same as the film, as it was originally performed by a number of dancers acting as body doubles. The dance that you see in the show, however, is fantastic. It has all the familiar elements of the original dance whilst managing to be performed by only one talented individual. I also have to mention a scene that took my completely by surprise. Teeny tiny spoiler here, so don’t read the next bit if you don’t want to know what happens! A sub plot involves the murder of Alex’s mother, who is shot by a drug addict in her laundrette. As surprising as that scene was in itself, what shocked me more was the reaction of Alex when she discovered what had happened. Besides Ms Hamilton-Barritt’s astounding acting, in which she narrated perfectly what the character was going through, there were some fantastic scenic choices. Without going into too much detail, I have never seen a show portray grief in such a real way – that it picks you up, drops you on your head and reminds you that the one thing you want is the one thing you can’t have. This particular scene not only moved me to tears but left me totally speechless as well.
Flashdance is running until this coming Saturday 15th January. Please please please, if you have chance, go and see this show before it disappears. Something tells me it won’t be away for long, but take the chance and see this cast – they’re fantastic! It’s nice to see a dance show with a heart, brains and a soul too 🙂