Review: Flashdance - Calling Gloria... sort the glitches

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THERE’S a belief in theatre circles that if you have a bad dress rehearsal, you’ll have a cracking opening night - Flashdance must have had a spectacular dress rehearsal.

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The Playhouse, Greenside Place

‘First when there’s nothing, but a slow glowing dream...’ sang cast members as the curtain rose on this new touring production, however, on numerous occasions that glow was missing as principals sang in the darkness, no doubt telepathically screaming out for a follow spot.

At other times, there appeared to be more lights on the audience than the action on stage.

With an untimely microphone fail and regular appearances by the stage crew, one distracting as the iconic water drop occurred, opening night of Flashdance at The Playhouse was a bit of a technical shambles.

Even the show’s stars were absent, Strictly Come Dancing Champion Joanne Clifton and Ben Adams, of boyband A1, replaced for this week of the tour by understudies Verity Jones and Colin Kiyani as Alex Owens and Nick Hurley respectively. Both, by the way, were excellent.

Indeed, this talented ensemble proved more than capable of dealing with the mishaps, even if they spent much of their time lugging designer Takis’ clumsy industrial set into position - a design that made no allowances for audience sight lines.

For those unfamiliar with the 1983 movie on which the musical is based, it tells the story of Alex, an apprentice welder by day and a flashdancer by night.

Alex dreams of going to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and becoming a professional ballet dancer.

She isn’t the only one with a dream, Nick Hurley, owner of the steelmill where she works, dreams of being his own man, best friend Gloria dreams of a life on the stage, while pal Jimmy has his hopes set on being a stand-up.

With so many threads, the story remains surprisingly thin, the emphasis being on the big musical numbers.

Featuring some of the best songs of the era, including Maniac, Gloria and the title track, the fantastically high-energy and hard-working ensemble relish Matt Cole’s explosive choreography.

In the lead roles, Jones and Kiyani are real troopers, and receive great support from Hollie-Ann Lowe, Sia Dauda and Demmileigh Foster, who boast fine vocals and dance moves.

All would rightly expect to be better served by the production team, as should the audience.

Run ends 20 January