Theatre Review: Flashdance @ New Theatre Oxford
by Evie Bennett
Wow! Just Wow! I don’t think I’ve seen a musical this good in a long time and I’m not sure words can do the production justice but I will certainly give it a good go. Flashdance tells the story of Alex Owens (steelworker by day, dancer by night) and her journey to attend the Shipley Dance Academy. It relays a tale of friendship, love, loss, confidence and hope and this particular production does it to mesmerising effect.
From the Strictly ballroom to creating magic on stage; ‘Kevin from Grimsby’s’ little sister is no longer in the shadows of her Strictly co-star big brother. Joanne Clifton, what a triple threat you are! We all knew she could dance but what was not expected were her flawless vivacious vocals combined with her effortless charm that seduced the audience into an awe-inspired trance. The chemistry between Clifton and her co-star Ben Adams was unfathomable forming the archetypal romantic duo that lovers of musical theatre crave.
The message that Hannah, the endearing ex dance teacher, articulates to Alex in her moments of doubt is that an exceptional dancer should lose themselves in the music and express themselves through the movements. Clifton epitomised this; this was not just her playing a character, this was her expressing her true self and the result was truly magnificent. It is easy to see why she was cast in this role.
Adams put in an exceptional performance as the loveable Nick Hurley. A far cry from his A1 days, his vocals were smooth and mature, his characterisation was both comical and sensitive to the storyline, and complemented Clifton like they were made for each other; their rendition of ‘Here and Now’ was pure romance.
This production is made by the exceptional talent of its chorus, the pensive line from the show “There are no small parts, just small people” couldn’t be more adept here with every supporting and choral role stealing the limelight, I didn’t know who to watch they were all so fantastic. Their interaction with each other and their pure flair for dance was mesmerising, and the party atmosphere they created on stage was infectious and had me dreaming of my theatre days, longing to be on stage with them. The choral sound of the male parts was particularly special, and their scenes in the workshop blended perfect timing and charisma to rib-tickling effect.
Matt Cole’s extensive list of theatre credits is evident in the extraordinary choreography throughout the performance, his blend of dance styles from Ballet to Jive is exquisite and it was lovely to see flashes of Latin American dance moves, the style that made Clifton famous, laced into the expressive style of dance that she excelled in so well.
Definitely worth a mention is the outstanding sound, lighting, set and costumes that combined to create the mechanical set of Hurley Steel, the comforting yet rundown glamour of Harrys Bar and the sleazy ostentatious Chameleon Club, setting the stage alight with the magic of theatre in all its excesses.
This production is pure fun, I would highly recommend it to both lovers of musical theatre and sceptics alike as the showcase of talent is just spellbinding, and is unlike the standard cheesy musical. The whole audience were on their feet at the end to join in the party, and a party it was with the multitude of encores the cast reprised; I’m a sucker for a long finale where I can dance away to all my favourites again.
Flashdance will have you longing to get up on stage and be a star and I truly am inspired to rekindle my love for performing, perhaps I should take hint from the age-old line “Take your passion, and make it happen”…
Flashdance is at New Theatre Oxford September 18 - 23. Book tickets here.
Photo credit Brian Hartley-Smaller.