Flashdance

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Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reviewed by Francesca Eagleton

Get your legwarmers at the ready because Flashdance The Musical is in full swing at the Palace Theatre this week!

Not even the producers expected Flashdance to be a hit when it was originally released in cinemas in 1983, but, screenwriter, Tom Hedley has successfully taken on the challenge of adapting one of the most successful films of the 80’s for the stage in this all-singing, all-dancing neon extravaganza!

Alex Owens, played by Joanne Clifton of Strictly Come Dancing fame, is a feisty and confident female lead. Working as a welder in a workroom filled with boisterous strong males, she certainly doesn’t fade into the background as she knows how to stand her ground and make a name for herself. She shines in the role and commands the stage at every turn.

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Alex certainly doesn’t lose sight of her dreams of one day joining the Shipley school of dance, despite the potential distraction of falling for love interest Nick Hurley, (played by Ben Adams) and with a little bit of help from her tutor and mother figure Hannah, (Carol Ball) she makes steps to follow her dreams.

It was no surprise that Joanne Clifton’s dancing skills would be a real highlight of the show. Clifton’s stamina is extraordinary, one minute she’s kicking and splitting her way across the stage and the next belting out a ballad without even breaking a sweat. We were tired just watching her! A real triple threat performer.

Ben Adams makes for a hugely charismatic and enormously likeable love interest in the form of Nick, the on stage chemistry between the two is exceptional.

Fans of the original film wont be disappointed, as the show embraces iconic scenes including the infamous scene with Alex, a chain and a whole lot of water. The show also features hits from the original film soundtrack; Maniac and Manhunt – alongside original songs by Robert Cary and Robbie Roth.

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Cramming song after song into this toe-tapping musical forced the plotline, at times, to suffer a little, however fans of the film will know it’s not the deepest of plots. The second half moves the action on swiftly, packed full of high energy and fast paced – everything that we wanted and expected it to be.

Of course the audience aren’t left disappointed, as we finally get that all important audition scene. As the introduction to the title song Flashdance…What A Feeling began to play out, the crowd erupted, clapping and dancing along – earning Clifton and the cast a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the show.

Dig out your lycra  and catch Flashdance the Musical at the Palace Theatre from Monday 12th until Saturday 17th February, tickets available here.

Peter Bergin is Peter Pan!

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Peter Bergin who trained at Rose Bruford, will take flight in Blackpool as he takes over the role of Peter Pan from Jake Quickenden who will soon be appearing on ITV’s Dancing On Ice.

Featuring a live band, lavish set and spectacular costumes, JM Barrie’s classic story has been wowing audiences at Blackpool’s Winter Garden’s since December 16th. Read our ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review here.

Also appearing are TV star Jennifer Ellison as the villainous Captain Hook, Blackpool’s own Maureen Nolan as Mrs Darling and Radio Wave’s Breakfast Host Scott Gallagher as Hook’s hapless sidekick, Smee.

The show runs until Sunday 7th January, offering audiences just a handful more opportunities to capture this magical family, musical adventure!

Tickets can be purchased here.

Flashdance the Musical

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By guest reviewer Casey Nicole Gwilliam

Flashback to the 80’s in this dazzling production of the all time classicJoanne Clifton dazzles as the feisty Alex, a young apprentice welder with a passion for dance, and a dream to get into the prestigious Shipley School of Dance.

With the help of her old dance teacher Hannah (Carol Ball), Alex prepares for her Shipley audition, as well as falling for the dashingly handsome Nick Hurley (Ben Adams) and having to save the day and set her friend Gloria (Hollie Ann Lowe) straight, she seizes the opportunity and dances her heart out.

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The numbers that were amongst audience favourites included “Maniac” and “Gloria” as well as the crowd pleasing “I Love Rock and Roll” which wowed the audience as the immensely talented ensemble dazzled with their moves demonstrating some  incredible tricks that made the audience wince and then cheer. The entire ensemble gathered together and created an absolutely amazing and retro atmosphere, wowing the audience with their moves and vocals that left even the audience breathless!

The lighting and set along with the extremely vintage costuming hurled the audience into the 80’s along with the perms and pumps. The authentic 80’s feel gave a sense of nostalgia, and was in keeping with the 1983 movie of the same title. Keeping audiences happily entertained.

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Joanne Clifton’s performance stood out as leading lady, Alex. Her husky voice was perfect for the scrappy young dancer and her acting and singing skills were on a par with her dance; proving to be a delightful triple threat. As well as having the audience envy her for pulling off spanks and a sports bra for the majority of the show.

Overall the show makes for an extremely enjoyable evening and was an instant hit with the audience, everybody was up dancing during the finale mega-mix ensuring everyone got a chance to show their moves!

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Flashdance the Musical is on at the Blackpool Opera House until Saturday 4th November, tickets available here http://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/flashdance/

Behind the Scenes of Flashdance – The Musical – Part 2 Ben Adams

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As part of out Flashdance The Musical interviews we spoke to Ben Adams who plays Nick Hurley alongside Joanne Clifton as Alex Owens ahead of the show’s opening night this evening  in Blackpool.

Flashdance is associated with one of the most iconic dance scenes ever; will we see you throw some shapes during the show?

Ben: My character isn’t supposed to dance at all, he’s the polar opposite really to Alex the female lead who does a huge amount of dancing, I don’t really get to do any, I don’t think the producers knew that I could dance as there wasn’t anything in the script, although I do throw a few shapes at the end but it’s nothing spectacular compared to the rest of the incredibly talented cast, particularly Joanne Clifton her dancing is fantastic.

ON: The last time we saw you on the stage you were playing Aladdin in Panto, how does appearing in a musical differ to panto?

Ben: It’s very, very different, my character in Flashdance is quite serious, also American, they really are very different art forms, similarly though it’s a lot of fun, I’ve had so much fun doing this show so far, it really is a great role to play.

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ON: How did you become involved in this production?

I’d spent the first sort of six months of this year writing and producing for other artists, but I kind of felt that sitting in a studio writing things for other people to go and have fun with is something I could always do alongside other work and also something I can do as I get older, I feel at the moment I haven’t really got the performing bug out of my system so when Flashdance came along I though yes this is a perfect opportunity to get out there, tour the country and have a bit of fun while doing so.

ON: Sellador are known for their creativity, how have you found working with them?

Selladoor are brilliant, such an incredibly brilliant production company who are doing so well at the moment, the last production I saw of theirs was Little Shop Of Horrors which was absolutely fantastic, so as soon as I realised that Selladoor were doing this I knew it was an absolute no brainer, I knew it was going to be a great show.

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ON: Your new single has been getting plenty of attention, could a new album and maybe a tour be next on the cards?

Before I agreed to do Flashdance I’d already planned to do the album so I’ve actually finished that now and was going to put it out but thought maybe we should postpone it as I don’t have a lot of time to go out and promote it but now so much is done online anyway so you can really reach so many people online and through social/online media so it’s not really a problem, the album is now planned for the beginning of 2018 which I’m really excited about. It’s really nice to see what a great response the single has got as I think a lot of people in my position are maybe pushed into doing more middle of the road stuff, not necessarily tracks that are particularly modern but because I produce my own material I can really do whatever I want to do.

ON: We’ve noticed a bit of activity on twitter from your musical the Eugenius! account, can you give us any spoilers?

I can’t announce anything officially but watch this space for an announcement very, very soon! Make sure you’re following!

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ON: After your experience working with Joanne Clifton would you consider a stint on Strictly?

I actually did Strictly in Norway and I came second which Joanne likes to rub in because obviously she came first, I’m not sure I’d be allowed to do the British one due to already doing a version but I absolutely loved it. It was so much harder than it looks, there were things that I was doing that I thought looked good and then they judges just told me it was all wrong, I quickly had to buck up my ideas and really learn it as best I could. The discipline is unbelievable, it’s very tricky.

Speaking of tricks, you’ll be in Blackpool for Halloween, will you be playing any tricks on your fellow cast members?

Of course! I’m a 35 year old man with a 16 year old mind, so there will be a lot of that I’m sure, I haven’t quite worked out what yet but I’ll absolutely be planning something!

Flashdance opens at the Blackpool Opera House on Monday 23rd October and runs until Saturday 4th November for tickets head to www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/flashdance/

 

 

Behind the Scenes of Flashdance – The Musical – Part 1 Joanne Clifton

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Starring Strictly Come Dancing Champion Joanne Clifton and A1 heartthrob Ben Adams, Flashdance – The Musical based on the classic film arrives in Blackpool next week as part of a UK & Ireland tour.

Telling the unforgettable story of determined welder Alex, who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, Flashdance promises to be an unforgettable night of entertainment. With phenomenal choreography all set to an incredible score including the smash hits Maniac, Gloria, I Love Rock & Roll and of course the famous title track Flashdance… What a Feeling, Flashdance will have you dancing in the aisles as sparks fly and love blossoms.

We caught up with Joanne Clifton ahead of Monday’s opening night to hear all about the show plus her thoughts on returning to Blackpool and taking to the Opera House stage.

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Opening Night (ON) : You have received rave reviews for your performance, what can we expect from this show?

Joanne : I absolutely love the show and I think that comes across to audiences, I think they can see and feel that, it’s such a different role to the last musical I did playing Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Alex in Flashdance is a tomboy, quite serious, sexy, a really strong woman. I’ve always played lots of comedy characters so I didn’t know how much I’d like playing someone so different but I absolutely love it. The only thing I can’t do is ride a bike and the first thing I do in this show is come on stage and ride a bike, I’m having regular lessons, every day after warm up I’m on there practicing, it’s so much harder than it looks!

ON: Flashdance is such an iconic dance film, everyone who knows Flashdance immediately thinks of THAT water scene, it the water hot or cold?

Joanne: It’s actually cold, I did ask could it be slightly warm as the first few times when it was coming down it was actually shocking me, but if it’s warm it affects the mechanics of the machinery, but I soon realised it’s actually ok as I have been dancing just before that happens so it’s actually quite refreshing.

ON: Is there an additional pressure to deliver something so iconic?

Joanne: Definitely, I felt a similar pressure with Millie especially as Julie Andrew’s had played it, but what I tend to do is I’ll watch the film once then I’ll kind of try and forget about it, so yes I have a link to that character but I’m playing it in my own way. So there is pressure but I enjoy the challenge of doing something my own way and creating my own take on that character.

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ON: You’ve played Marylin Monroe in Norma Jean The Musical, Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie and now you take on the lead role of Alex in Flashdance, do you feel you have silenced any critics who may only associate you with Strictly?

Joanne: I do like the fact people may come to the show not realising that as well as being able to dance I can also sing, it’s nice to read reviews where people have been pleasantly surprised. I love to show people that I can do other things; I’ve been so lucky and enjoyed such great success with my dancing career that it’s wonderful to be able to show people that as well as dancing I can also act and sing and act.

ON: We have heard they may be a single in the pipeline with your co-star Ben Adams could a pop career be on the cards?

Joanne: It’s actually a song from the show, it’s the duet we do together in the show, we’re recorded it, Ben’s produced it so it’s a little bit different from how we sing it on stage, and we’re also filming a little video for it, all very exciting but I think I’ll leave the pop career to Ben and stick with musical theatre.

We’ve heard recently that you’ve signed up to appear in Top Hat during your Christmas break from Flashdance, you are literally the hardest working woman in showbiz!

Ha ha I’ll tell you something I literally haven’t stopped working since the 1st August last year, the 1st of August was when Strictly started so we had all our pro rehearsals and then the show started in September, then two days after the Strictly final was Thoroughly Modern Millie, then Flashdance rehearsals overlapped the final week of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Top Hat overlaps Flashdance, Flashdance then is back so my next week off is the 5th of March, I’m gonna take myself off on a plane somewhere warm and sleep!

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Not only do you ride a bike on stage but you also get a soaking each night, how do you look after yourself to ensure you’re fighting fit?

I think just the sheer amount of dancing I do in this show keeps me fit, I love it coz I really do dance a heck of a lot in the show, when we have two shows a day by the time I go to bed I’m really tired, I make sure I get plenty of sleep but the great thing is I can literally eat what I want, which is brilliant coz I love my food, sausage and mash, pie and mash, I literally can eat anything I want coz it all comes off!

Are you excited to be returning to Blackpool?

Definitely, it’s one of my absolute favourite places in the whole world and has been my whole life because I’ve danced there since the age of about six, from my ballroom dance career then Strictly it’s been a really important place for me and now going back as a musical theatre star, it’s really special for me.

You’ll be in Blackpool for Halloween; do your cast members play any tricks on each other?

Joanne: I’m rubbish at playing tricks because if I’ve done something you can tell, my face just gives it away but I’m hoping if anyone plays any tricks on me they don’t put anything in the water!

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Now you have committed into 2018, are there any other venues you’re particularly looking forward to?

Joanne: I think we’re going to Ireland which I’m really excited about as I’ve never done anything like this over there before so it will be a real adventure.

ON: Finally who would be your dream partner once Ben Adams finishes his run?

Oh heck, it’s going to be really hard to think of anyone else in that part because I get on really well with him so I’m secretly hoping that he will continue with us into 2018 because we have so much fun together, it’s literally a laugh a minute with him, he’s amazing to work with and I feel really lucky that I’ve found someone like that to be my leading man, I would really love him to stay.

Flashdance opens at the Blackpool Opera House on Monday 23rd Ocotber and runs until Saturday 4th November for tickets head to www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/flashdance/

Spamalot

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Selladoor Productions in partnership with Mercury Theatre Colchester bring their new production of award winning musical comedy Spamalot to Blackpool this week, the first stop on its 2017/18 UK and Korean tour.

Telling the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and adapted from the 1975 film ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ Spamalot is chock-full of mayhem, madness with laughs a plenty. Written by Python legend Eric Idle and winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best New Musical, Spamalot continues to entertain audiences with its bonkers brilliance and superb score.

Bob Harms takes on the role of King Arthur and is accompanied by trusty sidekick Patsy (Rhys Owen). The two make for a fine paring, delivering many of the comedy highlights of the show, they are endearing, daft and very, very funny, causuing chaos and much confusion wherever they go.

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This production really highlights the genius of Monty Python and will delight both fans of the original film as well as newcomers to the piece. There are corpses who refuse to die, ferocious Frenchmen, a Black Knight who is determined to fight to the end despite losing all his limbs, and the brilliantly bonkers Knights who say Ni for whom only the gift of shrubbery will suffice. There have been a few slight tweaks to keep it up to date and relevant to the 2017 audience which are cleverly interwoven with the original production, offering Stephen Arden, as Sir Robin, a great opportunity to deliver plenty of laughs in his rendition of ‘You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz’

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Sarah Harlington is brilliantly cast as the Lady of the Lake, her duet with Sir Galahad (Norton James) singing audience favourite ‘Song That Goes Like This’ is laugh out loud funny, add to this her hilarious rendition of ‘The Diva’s Lament’ and she’s pretty much guaranteed her standing ovation at the end of the show, her voice is beautiful, her comedic timing superb.

Huge praise must go to each and every member of the cast; they’re incredibly hard working and look like they’re having as much fun up on stage as the audience are having watching. With great direction from Daniel Buckroyd, Spamalot is a great fun production from start to finish, ending with the ever popular ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ you’ll leave the theatre grinning from ear to ear.

For tickets and tour details head to www.selladoor.com/productions/spamalot

 

The Crucible

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Selladoor Productions and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, in association with Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg bring Arthur Miller’s classic play The Crucible to Manchester’s Opera House this week.

First performed in 1953 The Crucible used the Salem witch trials as a metaphor for the rife anti-communism which was gripping the United States, led by the House Un-American Activities Committee who saw any kind of leftist thinking as a challenge to American civilised society. Miller transports us to 17th century Salem, a farming town in Massachusetts which is rapidly gripped by witchcraft rumours, as the paranoia peaks amidst a colossal wave of accusation and fear, innocent woman are led to the gallows, confess to being a witch or hang, the choice is yours. We see neighbour turn on neighbour in a bid to save themselves as a frenzied hysteria takes hold, as lies snowball and cause unimaginable and catastrophic damage.

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Director Douglas Rintoul keeps this production clear and uncluttered allowing for the themes to speak loudly so there is no confusion about the absurdity and madness we are witnessing. Anouk Schit’s set is effective and wonderfully versatile, a large three sided steel with wooden panels which reconfigure and transform allowing for scenes to change smoothly whilst not distracting from the powerful message being delivered on stage. Chris Davy’s dramatic and bold lightening compliments the set beautifully.

Miller stated in his autobiography “I can almost tell what the political situation in a country is when the play is suddenly a hit there – it is either a warning of tyranny on the way or a reminder of tyranny just past” proving that The Crucible is just as relevant today as it was the very day it was created.

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The strong cast deliver some superb performances, Charlie Condou makes for an excellent Reverend Hale, calm and fair he brings serenity to the absurd situations he is witness too, aghast at the frenzy of hysteria whipping up the townsfolk. In contrast to Condou’s fair and forgiving Hale is the self-serving and spiteful Reverend Parris, arrogant and ghastly, Cornelius Clarke delivers the role convincingly.

As the horror of what we see unfolding is realised it is the relationship between John Proctor (Eoin Slattery) and his wife Elizabeth (Victoria Yeates) that grips our emotions, falsely accused and wholly innocent their arrests proving that this witch-hunt is past the point of no return. Both give very strong performances, their relationship although difficult is believable and honest, both do absolute justice to Millers script and add warmth and emotion.

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The Crucible is a powerful and poignant piece of theatre, it is often said that the civilisation of a society can be measured on how it treats its weakest members, wholly apt in Salem, 1950’s American and glaringly so across the Western world today. Hugely relevant, and immensely important, The Crucible delivers a message modern audiences must hear.

On at the Opera House until Saturday 13th May http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-crucible/opera-house-manchester/