Flashdance – The Musical is coming to a town near you. As the national tour kicks off its stars – Strictly champ Joanne Clifton and boy band sensation, singer-songwriter Ben Adams – talk to Stage Review about appearing in this iconic show.
Flashdance – The Musical tells the inspiring and unforgettable story of 18-year-old Alex, a welder by day and ‘flashdancer’ by night, who dreams of going to a prestigious dance academy and becoming a professional dancer.
She show is based on the phenomenally successful, 1983 Oscar-winning film that starred Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri.
This inspirational story is as much about Joanne and Ben as it is about Alex. Both started out having impossible dreams and the pair have succeeded in making those dreams come true in spectacular fashion
World, European and Strictly Come Dancing Champion Joanne, from Grimsby, always wanted to perform but, at an early age, her parents had to make the choice – dancing or acting classes.
Joanne, now 33, finally got her wish to appear on stage when she made her musical theatre debut in the Irving Berlin musical Face The Music.
She followed this up with a turn as Marilyn Monroe in the Norma Jeane Musical and then starred as Millie Dillmount in the No. 1 UK Tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie.
“It’s been tough adapting to the demands of the dancing in Flashdance,” said Joanne.
“I’ve been a ballroom dancer all my life and then I came out of Strictly and straight into Thoroughly Modern Millie which required tap, which I hadn’t done before.
“And now I’m starring in Flashdance which is street dancing and hip-hop etc which I’d never done before either and there is SO much in this musical!
“I was absolutely shattered when we first started rehearsals. I had bruises, blisters, pulled my neck twice and had to have physio but now it’s all good.”
She admitted to me that playing Alex Owens in Flashdance was the hardest thing she’d ever done. She’s even had to remember her metalwork skills last honed in school.
“I play a welder in the show and I actually built a candlestick holder when I was in school! (“Yeah, but that was out of Play Doh!,” interjected the playful Ben.)
“No, but seriously. This is just another dream come true!
“I think everyone in the world – whether dancer or non-dancer – as soon as they hear ‘What a Feeling’, remember that iconic water scene at the end of the film and I’m so incredibly lucky that I get to do that every night in a UK tour along with fabulous numbers like “She’s a Maniac.”
“I’m over the moon! It’s another amazing opportunity in my musical theatre career and I can once again sing and act alongside dancing! I just hope the water’s not too cold when it falls on me!
“I always wanted to do musical theatre as a kid but I chose dancing because my parents couldn’t afford for me to do both, either competing or at a musical theatre school in London.
“So I chose the safe route but have gone full circle. I’ve done what I wanted to do in competitive dancing, achieved what I wanted to achieve, and ended up at this.
“In fact I got this part in Flashdance because the producers came to see me in Millie…and I suppose because of Strictly”.
Ben, 35, who plays romantic lead Nick Hurley, has been singing and performing since the age of eight.
His career started as head chorister at St. Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey, singing at royal weddings, touring all over Europe, recording two classical albums and frequently singing for VIPs like the Queen and the Pope.
At 16, he became the lead singer of the band A1, who racked up 10 million record sales, two UK number ones, five studio albums and toured throughout the world, winning a Brit award.
Ben is now a successful songwriter and producer, working with people like Robin Thicke, Craig David, JLS, Sam Bailey, and Alexandra Burke.
So what’s he doing in a dance musical (besides being utterly charming and cracking jokes throughout our interview)?
“I actually did Strictly Come Dancing in Norway and came second! I don’t think the producers realised that, and I kept it quiet.
“This part is perfect for me. I play the polar opposite of Alex, who is all about the dance and I’m not supposed to be at all. So I have a really easy ride (he doesn’t). I have no dancing until the end but have several musical numbers.
“We have this salsa (“Would you call what you do salsa?” quipped his co-star) at the end and, during rehearsals, I had no idea what I was doing!
“Flashdance is all about pursuing your dreams. I started out as a choirboy before going into A1 and we’re still doing concerts.
“But now I write and produce for other artists as well.
“It’s to do with dedication. There are so many people who want to do it but you really have to have dedication and want to be the best at your craft.
“I think that we’re both such ambitious people, and perfectionists, that we don’t stop until we make it happen.
“That’s why this show is so great because we want to make it as perfect as we possibly can.
“Anyone can achieve anything as long as they put their mind to it and work hard.”
Ben has a a new solo album coming out, a 20th anniversary concert tour with A1 and he’s written a musical called ‘Eugenius!’ which is set to hit the West End stage next year.
Ben says of taking to the stage in Flashdance: “It’s amazing to be part of such an iconic story, and, as an 80s child, I was brought up on this music so I couldn’t be happier playing Nick in the theatre production of Flashdance.
“While I continue with my own music career and touring with A1, musical theatre has always been a real passion of mine, so to be asked to play this role, and to be working with such an amazing cast and crew is a real honour.
“These dancers are amazing, incredibly fit and so well trained. But they’re all about 20 and I’m 35, a whole generation older. It makes me feel very old!”
Why see Flashdance? Here’s why. “It’s got everything,” says Joanne. “So many amazing dance and singing numbers, a great storyline and all the moments from the film.”
“It’s got a great soundtrack,” added Ben. “An amazing original score, high energy. It’s got welding, who doesn’t want to see that?
“In fact, that is what was missing from Matilda, if I’m honest!”
Both Ben and Joanne are in the show up until the new year when fresh stars will take their place.
“Unfortunately we both have other commitments next year so can’t stay with the show”, said Ben.
So prepare to be blown away with an astonishing musical spectacle and phenomenal choreography to an iconic score that include the smash hits Maniac, Manhunt, Gloria, I Love Rock & Roll and the award-winning title track Flashdance – What a Feeling.
Additional cast includes: Colin Kiyani, Rikki Chamberlain, Garry Lee Netley, Carol Ball, Sia Dauda, Hollie Ann Lowe, Simeon Beckett, Rhodri Watkins, Demmileigh Foster, Emily Kenwright, Ameila Rose Fielding, Alex Christian and Matt Concannon.
Read about how director Hannah Chissick and choreographer Matt Cole put Flashdance the Musical together HERE
2017 UK Tour
ABERYSTWYYTH ARTS CENTRE, 16-26 AUGUST
MAYFLOWER THEATRE, Southampton, 6-9 SEPTEMBER
EMPIRE THEATRE, Sunderland, 11-16 SEPTEMBER
NEW THEATRE, Oxford, 18-23 SEPTEMBER
REGENT THEATRE, Stoke, 25-30 SEPTEMBER
NEW THEATRE, Wimbledon, 2-7 OCTOBER
ORCHARD THEATRE, Dartford, 9-14 OCTOBER
EMPIRE THEATRE, Liverpool, – 16-21 OCTOBER
BLACKPOOL OPERA HOUSE, 23 OCTOBER – 4 NOVEMBER
CHESTERFIELD WINDING WHEEL, 8-11 NOVEMBER
ASSEMBLY HALL THEATRE, Tunbridge Wells, 13-18 NOVEMBER
AYLESBURY WATERSIDE THEATRE, 20-25 NOVEMBER
OPERA HOUSE, York, 27 NOVEMBER – 2 DECEMBER
ALEXANDRA THEATRE, Birmingham, 4-9 DECEMBER.
2018 (casting to be announced)
PLAYHOUSE THEATRE, Edinburgh 15-20 JANUARY
PALACE THEATRE, Manchester – 12 – 17 FEBRUARY
VICTORIA THEATRE, Woking – 19 – 24 FEBRUARY
PRINCESS THEATRE, Torquay – 26 FEBRUARY – 3 MARCH
DERRY MILLENNIUM FORUM, Derry- 19 – 24 MARCH
DE MONTFORT THEATRE, Leicester – 26 – 31 MARCH
ALHAMBRA THEATRE, Bradford – 3 – 7 APRIL
THEATRE ROYAL, Brighton – 9 – 14 APRIL
THEATRE ROYAL, Nottingham – 7 – 12 MAY
THE SANDS CENTRE, Carlisle – 21 – 26 MAY
MARLOWE THEATRE, Canterbury – 18 – 23 JUNE
HIPPODROME, Bristol – 25 – 30 JUNE
MILTON KEYNES THEATRE – 16 – 21 JULY.