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REVIEW: Flashdance at Sunderland Empire

What A Feeling..!


Sunderland Empire

Until Saturday 16th September 2017

The 1983 film has become an energetic musical with some fabulous choreography and great music from a hardworking cast and band.

Flashdance The Musical -   Photo: Brian Hartley
We love 1980s films: Fame, Footloose, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Flashdance… All but 1 of these have now become musicals. Whereas Fame, the last time we saw it, had been updated with mobile phones, Flashdance has kept to its 80s roots. Lycra, pop socks and frenetic dancing.

Flashdance The Musical -   Photo: Brian Hartley
This tale involves Alex Owens, who is a brilliant apprentice welder by day and a dancer in a club by night. She wants to make it as a dancer, and is encouraged by those around her, but has yet to get the courage to apply for formal training. Meanwhile the son of the boss at the day job, Nick Hurley, has caught her eye. Underpinning the story, set at a time when traditional jobs were disappearing on both sides of the Atlantic, both work places are struggling and considering cutting back.

This is a tale in which the females come out on top - or as much as they did in the early 80s.
Flashdance The Musical -   Photo: Brian Hartley
Flashdance The Musical -   Photo: Brian Hartley
Now some musicals have celebrities brought on board to help sell tickets rather than add any talent to the action on stage. Fortunately this isn’t so much the case here. Ben Adams’ singing experience in the band A1 and elsewhere, shines through in his role as Nick Hurley. Likewise Joanne Clifton will be well known to viewers of Strictly Come Dancing as she was champion in that show. Her dancing, singing and acting was superb tonight. Unlike in the original movie - there is no opportunity to use a body double or do a retake here. Ben and Joanne get the opportunity for a delightful duet with Here and Now which showed how well their voices worked together.

Flashdance The Musical -   Photo: Brian Hartley
In actual fact, the choreography was a strong feature of the show. Choreographer Matt Cole has clearly worked hard to to recreate a number of the routines from the film and to supplement them with others that are in a similar style. This is a lot of work for the cast.

Flashdance The Musical -   Photo: Brian Hartley
Another musical highlight tonight was Hollie-Ann Lowe who showed great control during Gloria.

The set consists of a couple of boxes with screens and a couple of sets of stairs which are all on wheels and kept getting moved around at the end of each scene. The one disappointment was the band was hidden at the back until the very end of the show. It would have been nice to have found a reason to put them on show sooner. Musical director George Carter led a very tight band that didn’t put a foot wrong all night.
Flashdance The Musical -   Photo: Brian Hartley
Flashdance The Musical -   Photo: Brian Hartley
We have previously enjoyed Sell-a-Door productions of Avenue Q, Footlooseand American Idiot and this is no exception. Director Hannah Chissick has created a show that will appeal to those that remember the original film and those who love a feel-good yarn with a message of empowerment.

Flashdance the Musical succeeded in bringing the film to the stage and the resultant show was a very pleasant evening’s entertainment.

Review by Stephen Oliver


Tickets available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022* or online from our affiliate ATG Tickets using the banner below *calls cost up to 7p per minute plus standard network charges. Booking and transaction fees may apply to telephone and online bookings.

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