A round-up of reviews for Flashdance The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London
Hot on the heels of a West End filling up with shows based on 80s movie, it’s the turn of Flashdance The Musical to get its moment on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Based on the hit Jerry Bruckheimer movie, Flashdance The Musical is choreographed by Arlene Phillips and features a well-known score that includes Manhunt, Gloria and Flashdance – What A Feeling.
As the critics point out, the story is very Billy Elliot: an 18 year old girl from Pittsburgh, who is a welder by day and a ‘flashdancer” in a club by night, dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. When she falls for her posh boss, all of her dreams start to come together.
The musical features the star of the UK tour, Victoria Hamilton Barritt, and former Busted boyband member Matt Willis.
Critics were mostly full of praise for Phillips’ choreography and the lead performances, but marked the show down over the revised plot (trying to be darker in places) and of feeling manipulated and hit over the head with yet another movie-into-a-musical.
Read round-ups of reviews from the Guardian, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Stage below.
“Thanks to Arlene Phillips's choreography and Nikolai Foster's direction, the show brims with physical energy and is full of visual invention. All the same, there are aspects of this blue-collar Cinderella story that don't quite add up.”
“The show is torn between applauding collective endeavour and personal aspiration.”
“Even if Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as Alex has the air of a seasoned showbiz pro rather than a 19-year-old dreamer, she invests the role with a formidably restless energy and the right chip-on-shoulder determination. Matt Willis as her factory-boss lover and Charlotte Harwood as a gullible flashdancer provide staunch support”. - The Guardian
"Hard on the heels of Fame, Dirty Dancing and Footloose comes Flashdance, another movie-derived dance musical, all dressed up with nowhere to go."
"Watching the DVD of Flashdance the other day, which is more like a series of MTV pop videos than a movie with a proper storyline and decently drawn characters, I assumed the stage version could only be an improvement. In fact it is even worse."
"Choreographer Arlene Phillips has come up with lots of Hot Gossip-style dance routines for scantily-clad chicks... but the dancing isn't nearly as spectacular as it is in the movie."
"As the heroine, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt almost entirely lacks the freshness and charm of Jennifer Beals in the film.. Matt Willis is little more than a cipher as the love interest." - The Telegraph
"This musical, based on the 1983 Hollywood film, is not only derivative but also manipulative, hackneyed, sexist, noisy - and shameless good fun."
"The plot - plot! - is one of those lowering-of-protective-hackles efforts that may have diabetics reaching for their medicine. Sugary."
"Miss Hamilton-Barritt is tremendous and ensures that this show should be at least as popular with teenage boys as hen parties."
"Nick, is played by Matt Willis of the pop group Busted. He is not the world's most handsome blade but he has a tidy voice."
"Apart from the appallingly trite storyline, this show is much better than it probably need be. A great recession-buster of a night out." - Daily Mail
"The question is, will this new musical live up to the film? Despite having the original screenwriter Tom Hedley on board and the considerable choreographing talents of Arlene Phillips, the short answer is no."
"The new numbers by Robbie Roth and Robert Cary don't come close to the classic songs... but there's nothing wrong with the singing here, while the break-dancing sequences performed on the industrial set are often impresssive."
"Victoria HamiltonBarritt gives her all as Alex while Matt Willis is credible as the boyfriend Nick Hurley, although both face stiff competition from Charlotte Harwood as coked-up dancer Gloria." - Daily Express
"Flashdance is a slickly achieved hybrid of an adult version of Billy Elliot meets Fame."
"It is expressly and expressively despatched, thanks to the driving momentum of Arlene Phillips's choreography that is threaded through it. The gritty book is well complemented by the witty urban dance that sparks up the stage even more effectively than the welding torches spraying orange flames."
"A talented cast is led by Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, a dancing dynamo as Alex, who combines looks, legs, movement and vocals to brassy effect, and the sweetly appealing Matt Willis, formerly of pop band Busted, as her boss turned lover." - The Stage
Date: 15 October 2010
Written by: WestEndTheatre
Tags: Arlene Phillips, Matt Willis, Reviews, Shaftesbury Theatre, Victoria Hamilton Barritt