Theatre

Flashdance The Musical

The Playhouse, Edinburgh

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Neil Cooper

Three stars

ANYONE wishing to see the connections between classical ballet and shaking your stuff in late-night dives as salvation from the 1980s recession could do worse than check out this touring revival of the musical stage version of Adrian Lyne’s 1983 film. Back then, in a post Fame, pre Billy Elliot world, Tom Hedley’s original story concerning Pittsburgh teenager Alex was as blue-collar aspirational as it got. Alex does dayshifts as a welder at the local steelworks before thrusting her way through a late-night floor-show at the local club, all the time harbouring dreams of joining the tutu-clad elite at the Shipley Dance Academy.

Enter boss’s son Nick, who attempts to buy his way into Alex’s affections while being forced to lay off shop-floor staff. With the club Alex dances in similarly exposed to hard times, this ushers in a sub-plot concerning even more hardcore small-town sexploitation, until Alex and everyone else come good, with Nick forsaking the evils of late twentieth century capitalism.

Hedley’s book, co-written with Robert Cary, who co-wrote the show’s lyrics with composer Robbie Roth, is a busy construction, with Hannah Chissick’s Selladoor Productions-led affair modelled on a 2013 Swedish take on the show. This is carried by the fearless chutzpah of Verity Jones as Alex, gamely supported by Colin Kiyani as Nick and a breathless cast.

While there’s something clearly going on beyond the double denim, pink neon and stretch-lycra throwbacks, it’s perhaps telling that the show’s best numbers – Maniac, Gloria, a wisely milked What a Feeling, plus a raunchy version of the Arrows/Joan Jett and the Blackhearts anthem, I Love Rock‘n’Roll – are all from the film. The end result is an entertaining and energetic time capsule that isn’t quite ready yet to stand on its own two feet.