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Feeling it for Flashdance

Joanne Clifton has swapped Strictly sequins for Eighties legwarmers.

Any Eighties soundtrack has immediate emotional resonance with me but the iconic Flashdance soundtrack What A Feeling just makes me remember a time when I thought wearing leg-warmers was just sooo cool!

All photos: Brian Hartley

I dealt with those demons last night when I went to watch Flashdance at De Montfort Hall. From the start, I was immersed in this super-energetic production starring Strictly’s Joanne Clifton as Alex, superwelder by day, frustrated dancer by night, and Ben Adams from A1, as her boss and love interest.

First off, you’ll want to know if Joanne Clifton is a cynical casting on the back of her Strictly fame. No as it happens. She has a really strong voice with a bit of husk that stops it from sounding like so many squeaky musical stars, plus she nails an American accent perfectly. The dancing is clearly not going to be a problem for her – her energy and ‘delivery’ are things of wonderment and her acting, though occasionally veering towards the hammy (probably much harder to nail an intense, serious character than the joyous Thoroughly Modern Milliethat she last starred in), stayed believable.

As you’d expect, the dancing was the real star in this show and the supporting cast were really exceptional, especially Simeon Beckett, Rhodri Watkins and Demmileigh Foster. Ben Adams no doubt can bust some moves like any self-respecting former boy-bander but he was consigned to singing and acting duties and, blow me down, he was good too – the guy really can sing and act and his voice fitted with Joanne Clifton’s well.

Sets were all about industrial graffiti, neon lights and metal staircases, simple but effective, and the whole thing zipped along with huge energy.

If I was to criticise anything it’s a general criticism of modern musicals, which is that I wish there were 6 less songs in each production I see and that the acting could move the story along with the music as the accent at moments of real emotion.

But there, that’s just me. What I should point out is that by the time the encore came, it came with the whole audience on its feet, Joanne Clifton was like a woman possessed in her teeny tiny outfit, gyrating on the floor, bending in ways that would have a chiropractor wincing, shaking her Jon Bon Jovi hair with  abandon, with the rest of the cast behind her clearly in raptures at the reception.

A job well done.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Dance fans, Eighties aficionados, groups of girlfriends wanting a night out, anyone who wants some high-waist-trouser escapism (seriously, the outfits are hilariously en pointe).

Not for: The themes of erotic dancing, exploitation and drugs won’t suit small kids. There are a lot of bums out in skimpy outfits.

££: Tickets start from £25

Flashdance is at De Montfort Hall from Mon 26 to  Sat 31 March. De Montfort Hall, Granville Rd, Leicester LE1 7RU. Box Office: 0116 233 3111.

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