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Review: Flashdance the Musical at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford

By Nikki White

When you sign up a name famous for dancing, you know she’s going to bring it to your musical.

But the big question many of us were asking was can Strictly’s Joanne Clifton sing?

Well, turns out she can, and she’s very good.

Flashdance the Musical
Flashdance the Musical

Joanne, who lifted the coveted glitterball trophy alongside her partner Ore Oduba to win the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing last year, is starring in Flashdance the Musical.

As a story about welder Alex Owens chasing her dancing dream, Joanne’s CV (world champion and European ballroom dancer) puts her up there and this is not her first musical – she’s also previously toured the UK in Thoroughly Modern Millie, among others.

But boy, does this girl have stamina. The dance routines are high-energy and Joanne switched easily from leaping around stage to powerful but controlled love songs with a flick of her crimped hair.

Ben Adams, as love interest Nick Hurley, may not have the same level of moves (although he pulled off a few), but his performance was particularly strong.

As the former lead singer of boy band A1, he was clearly comfortable in front of The Orchard crowd and looked more at home on stage than anyone.

I was never really into A1 (sorry Ben) but his singing was worth the ticket price alone.

Duets between the pair, Here and Now along with Hang On, were beautiful.

But nobody was there for the love songs. They were there for the big numbers, and they did not fail to deliver.

Read our interview with Joanne Clifton here

The cast of Flashdance
The cast of Flashdance

What A Feeling, Maniac, Gloria, and a raunchy I Love Rock and Roll got the crowd moving and clapping.

There’s a subplot running through the story, where Alex’s friends are also chasing their dreams, which gave other cast members the chance to shine with some great dancing and vocals, but it did mean there was less chance to feel you had really connected with the characters.

However, Carol Ball brought some gentle charm as Alex’s guiding light Hannah, and Sasha Latoya as nurse Louise may have had a small role but listen out for her hitting the high notes in the final medley.

There were a few sound issues at the start of the performance, with the band almost drowning out the cast which meant it was difficult to know how they were trying to set the scene. But it was opening night and these were quickly ironed out.

And let’s face it, most of us in the audience had seen the film before and knew exactly what was coming.

OK, so part of me was a little disappointed that Jo didn’t pop out during the interval with Ore and give us a quick turn of their show-stopping Strictly performance of Singin' in the Rain but hey, you can’t have it all.

And sadly, that iconic moment from the film where Alex stretches out seductively on a chair while dancing and gets drenched in water was lost on me as my view was restricted by another dancer right at that critical moment (be warned anyone sitting near the end of row B). Still, everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

Strictly's Joanne Clifton in Flashdance the Musical
Strictly's Joanne Clifton in Flashdance the Musical

That aside it was a fantastic show. By the end, we were all dancing and clapping along in a finale that can’t fail to leave you smiling.

And if you can finish a night out with that kind of feeling, it can’t be bad.

Flashdance – The Musical will be at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford until Saturday, October 14. To book, visit orchardtheatre.co.uk or call 01322 220000.

It will be at the Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells from Monday, November 13 to Saturday, November 18. To book visit assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk or call 01892 530613.

It will also be at the Marlowe Theatre from Monday, June 18, to Saturday, June 23, 2018. Go to marlowetheatre.com or call 01227 787787.

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