is a stage adaptation of the hit 1983 film about a female steelworker
named Alex who moonlights doing self-created artistic dances in a local
bar, has a romance with the boss, and auditions for a Pittsburgh ballet
company (and if you think that sentence is overfull of improbabilities,
the story is evidently based on a real woman, who sold the film rights
for all of $2500).
screenwriters has co-written this version, adding or dropping some
characters and expanding the subplots about a fellow dancer lured by a
strip club and a guy trying to become a comedian.
four things from the film - Alex's two very sexy barroom dances
(including the one that ends with her drenched with water), the
audition dance, and a non-dance moment involving a bra and a
along with ten new songs by Robert Cary and Robbie Roth that are
generally adequate and occasionally, as with 'One In A Million', quite
the show isn't
a success, even by the standards of
theatre-for-people-who-don't-go-to-the-theatre, and the main reason
lies in the dancing. There's no purpose for this show if the dances
aren't all exciting, energetic and sexy - and they're not.
Arlene Phillips has created three groups of dances - recreations of
Alex's solos in the film, big production numbers for the whole cast,
and brief solo spots for individual chorus members who cross the stage
between scenes to cover the set changes.
last group are
the most successful, keeping the energy level up during what could be
dead time and frequently quite inventive in showing off the skills or
sexiness of the dancers.
are colourful and energetic as well, but Phillips relies too much on
the rather limited vocabulary of breakdancing, and the occasional
spectacular mid-air flip aside, the production numbers begin to look
alike and not much different from what any black kid in America was
doing on the streets in the 1980s. Unlike, say, the recent Into The
Hoods, Phillips hasn't sufficiently cross-fertilised the style with
theatre dance or raised it above its street limitations.
leaves Alex's three big solos.
have to say that,
reading the programme afterwards, I was surprised to discover that
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt is a trained dancer, because although she's a
strong actress and sings adequately, none of her dance numbers is as
exciting as it should be, and one gets the impression of Arlene
Phillips choreographing around her limitations rather than showcasing
first bar dance
goes by almost unnoticed and, in a moment that is almost emblematic of
the whole show, the potentially sexiest number doesn't end with
Hamilton-Barritt being drenched with water, but just lightly sprinkled
by what seems a blocked showerhead.
And although the audition number quotes the film's choreography directly, Phillips quickly violates the reality of the scene to bring the entire chorus line on to dance along with Alex, in what seems like a desperate attempt to inject some excitement into the moment.
be fair, the
film actress wasn't much of a dancer either, and her solos involved a
half-dozen dance doubles and some creative editing.)
Hamilton-Barritt do have one strong moment, when Alex first visits the
ballet company and goes into a dream dance that blends classical moves
with her jazzier style, but the number ends just as it's beginning to
build up some momentum.
this stage version go to Twinnielee Moore as one of Alex's friends -
Moore is also the at-certain-performances Alex, which suggests that
matinee audiences may be in for a special treat - while the best singer
by far is Sarah Ingram in the new role of Alex's mother. Her
spirit-boosting duet with Alex, 'One In A Million', is the show's best
song, and she has the added virtue, rare in this company, of making her
It's a good-night-out entertainment designed for the same audience that
enjoys Mamma Mia, Priscilla and We Will Rock You. But I fear that that
audience, which deserves the best, will be disappointed by Flashdance.
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- Flashdance - Shaftsbury 2010