When the film Flashdance opened in cinemas in 1983, it was largely panned by critics.
However, the dance-based drama went on to become a huge box-office hit, spawning an Oscar-winning, 20m-selling soundtrack.
Now also a hit musical, it tells the inspiring and unforgettable story of 18-year-old Alex, a welder by day and ‘flashdancer’ by night, who dreams of going to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and becoming a professional dancer. When a romance complicates her ambitions, she harnesses it to drive her dream.
Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton is making a swift follow-up to her leading turn in Thoroughly Modern Millie as Alex.
And she’s joined by Ben Adams, of boy-turned-man-band A1, who is making his musical theatre debut as love-interest Nick Hurley.
Ben admits he wasn’t familiar with his co-star before they started on the show.
If you grew up in the ’80s and hadn’t seen Flashdance or at least heard of it, then you must have been living under a rockBen Adams
‘I didn’t know her before, to be honest,’ says Ben. ‘I don’t even watch Strictly, but we have to perform side-by-side and we’ve become good friends - which is good as we live in each other’s pockets!’
And although the show is famed for its dance routines, Ben gets off lightly – even though he harbours a not-so-secret dancing background.
‘The show is very extensive on the dancing. I actually did the Norwegian version of Strictly, so I can dance, but I don’t think the producers knew that when they cast me, so I don’t actually do any dancing at all.
‘I get a very easy ride,’ he laughs. ‘It’s all the singing and acting bits, and then I leave all of the dancing to the amazing dancers on the show. Everyone else comes off the stage dripping in sweat, and I might have a bead on my forehead and that’s about it.’
Dancing aside, Ben’s been relishing getting into the show.
‘I’ve never done musical theatre before, I’ve often toyed with the idea and I’ve been offered various bits and pieces along the way, but I’ve never really had the time to say yes to it because it is quite a big commitment.
‘I’ve been busy doing writing and producing,’ Ben is an in-demand writer/producer for other artists, ‘and I’m still going out and playing with A1, and I’ve been busy writing my own musical, Eugenius, which is going into London at the beginning of next year, so I’ve just not had the time to do it.
‘So when this came up, I’d spent the first six months of this year writing and producing for other people, and I was getting a bit fed up of looking at the same four walls day in, day out.
‘I thought I’d quite like to do a solid bit of performance, then this came though and I thought, ‘You know what? If I’m going to do it, let’s do it’. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it – doing the same thing over and over again which isn’t your own show. I thought it might be awful – but I love it.’
He’s also enjoying being part of a big ongoing story.
‘If you grew up in the ’80s and hadn’t seen it or at least heard of it, then you must have been living under a rock. I watched it again to refresh my memory, but it’s one of those iconic films that’s made iconic by the soundtrack. There’s so many great songs – Maniac, What A Feeling, Gloria... Those songs took on a life of their own, which has helped the film’s longevity, and then of course there’s the audition scene, which is very famous.’
Ben is only committed to Flashdance until Christmas – but he’s got plenty to keep him busy with Eugenius opening, a solo album on the horizon, not to mention his old group.
‘Even though I won’t be in Eugenius, I’m doing all of the music and lots of things for that, so I have to concentrate on that. I’m also about to release my solo album in the new year, which I haven’t done in years, to there’s lots and lots of things coming up.
‘And every day we have a day off from Flashdance I’m doing an A1 concert, so I haven’t actually had a day off in quite a long time, but I’m enjoying it, I like to keep it varied, and I get bored quickly.’
Mayflower Theatre, Southampton