‘Flashdance’ was flashy.
There is no way to say this lightly: the script for ‘Flashdance’ is bad.
The billing for this show lists Tom Hedley three times. Book by Tom Hedley, Screenplay by Tom Hedley (‘Flashdance’ of course being an adaptation of the 1983 film) and Story by Tom Hedley. One can only assume that Tom Hedley insisted on the inclusion of this last credit despite the other two essentially covering this, and thus these credits don’t paint a picture of Tom Hedley as someone with many other noteworthy credits up his sleeve.
The most obvious problem with Tom Hedley’s book, screenplay and story are that drama requires conflict. Any high school theatre student could have told Tom Hedley that tension is the driving force behind all drama. But Tom Hedley’s script contains no tension because it contains no stakes.
The story is this: Alex Owens is a young woman working at a steel mill in Pittsburgh in the 1980s. She aspires to be a dancer and dreams of attending the prestigious Shipley Academy. She secures an audition which makes her very nervous. And that’s about it. See the problem?
Everyone sitting in the auditorium has bigger problems than this in their own lives. Every member of the audience has experienced more drama in their working week.
So, the mountainous task ahead of director David Harrison in staging ‘Flashdance’ was making sure that his audience somehow cares about this character and this story.
And… well, surprisingly, and through no help from a certain Tom Hedley, Harrison has managed to achieve this.
Deserving of insurmountable credit is Aleisha Rose in the central role of Alex. Rose is a performer of the highest calibre. She succeeds in all respects in this production: as a powerful vocalist, as a mesmerising dancer, and as an actress so talented that she can make even the most insipid lines bubble with life and authenticity. Whatever production Aleisha Rose tackles next, it will be well worth the price of admission.
She is assisted by a supporting trio who match her in the intensity of her talent, in the forms of Rebel Bliss as Kiki, Hayley Marsh as Tess and Shelby Cunliffe as Gloria. These three powerhouses bring an unrivalled level of joy and passion to the production, and audiences may find themselves longing for their return long after they leave the stage.
As Nick Hurley, Adam Goodall delivers stellar vocals and a genuine and sincere performance. Unfortunately, the character of Nick doesn’t align with the naturally introspective persona Goodall brings to the stage. It would be nice to see him as a character with more complexity.
Of course, in a musical like ‘Flashdance’ choreography reigns supreme. This has been crafted by Shelley Marshall, assisted by Stephanie Inches. Marshall’s choreography is a wonderfully eclectic mix of styles and forms that borrow from and celebrate the diversity of the world of dance. She has managed that seemingly impossible feat of amateur theatre – to choreograph each performer so precisely that the experienced dancers are allowed to shine but others aren’t relegated to ‘the back’. Here, everyone looks good.
Prima’s production of ‘Flashdance’ has managed to shine through the barriers imposed upon it by the script itself. ‘Flashdance’ has now closed, but as a result of this success the company and its future productions should not be ignored.
Flashdance played at the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre until Sunday, 6 October 2019. To keep up to date with Prima’s 2020 season, visit Prima Org’s Website.