Flashdance – Lost Its Grip In The Theatre?
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
There is a reason one of the writers of Flashdance, Tom Hedley, resisted attempts to pen a sequel to his smash hit movie of the same name, he knew that the resulting film would, no doubt, make money but also dilute the memory of his Oscar winning product.
The Flashdance phenomenon which, ironically featured Yale graduate Jennifer Beals as the main protagonist, in which she played a blue-collar steel worker cum street dancer hell bent on a career in ballet, first emerged in the early 80’s.
And, it was a smash hit because it followed that time worn storyline that other films like Rocky had done before, only this time it was a female pipe welder in a man’s world who crawls from the gutter, despite having no parents in her life, and triumphs over adversity – her ballet teacher dies just before she’s about to audition - to achieve her goal, a place at a prestigious dance school.
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Now apply ‘marketing’ and a bit of business speak. The executives will have sat round a table and said something like: “Let’s extend the product lifecycle, turn it into a musical.” And that’s what they did.
Flashdance will make money because it is a crowd pleaser but, for me, its greatness is in its original format as a movie. Hedley was right not to make a second film, but a stage musical? It will always be open to comparison, however, film and stage are not apples with apples and therein lies the problem.
Joanne Clifton as welder Alex Owens – the girl struggling for success – was a tour de force, BUT, it still didn’t make the movie great in stage terms. Despite lots of coloured outfits, leg warmers and 80’s headbands, there was a permanent brooding darkness across the stage and that failed to match the spirit of the show’s optimistic denouement.
The Full Monty was set in a steel town in the same way that Flashdance chose Pittsburgh for its backdrop, however, the former was more comprehensively uplifting.
Ben Adams, was Owens’ leading man, steel company boss, Nick Hurley, good looking, slick and workmanlike, but a little too ‘boy bandy’ for me, a possible throw back to his days with ‘A1’ and less of a nod to his days as a Westminster Abbey choirboy!
The cast gave their all and this 2013 Stockholm production had a lot to offer, a hard-working team, strong on dance technique – classical and Latin ballroom were written all over it - with a great rock orchestra that, at times, was a tad too loud; stage musical with a rock theme, not a rock concert guys!
A good production but a weak show that should not reflect badly on its solid cast, just not one of my favourites.
Flashdance - The Musical
Flashdance – Lost Its Grip In The Theatre?, 4th April 2018, 12:00 PM