REVIEW: Flashdance, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until Saturday, September 9.

Carol Ball and Joanne Clifton - Credit Brian Hartley
Carol Ball and Joanne Clifton - Credit Brian Hartley

After dazzling as a dancer, Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton is now conquering musical theatre.

Flashdance is the perfect dance platform, of course, but as an actress and a singer now, she’s clearly the complete package as Alex Owens, wrapping it up all with the most amazing energy – an energy almost exhausting to watch, particularly in a second half which redeems a rather duller first.

For those on an 80s nostalgia ride, Flashdance is a grimmer, much-less-fun prospect than, say, Dirty Dancing. As for its tale of an instinctive, unschooled dancer desperate to dance his/her way out of post-industrial hopelessness, frankly Billy Elliott has since done it all much, much better.

Flashdance’s factory and exotic-dance club settings just aren’t particularly attractive – which is precisely why Alex Owens is trying to escape them.

There’s no doubting the skill of the cast, nor its commitment, but Flashdance just isn’t in the premiere league of musicals – and some fairly-ordinary sound mixing at the Mayflower certainly didn’t help, the singing consistently drowned out by the band.

But a much perkier second half is the memory you go away with, a tale of hope and a little romance amid the bleakness – all carried by a deeply-impressive performance from Clifton.

Ben Adams was also excellent as the love interest – though, vocally, he was probably the performer who suffered most from the poor mixing.

Phil Hewitt

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