Clifton throws off the sequins and silks, casts away the ballroom and latin to don leotard and denims and grind and gryate rather than glide across the stage. She sings every bit as excellently as she dances and excels as the pocket rocket that is the tomboy Alex – the heroine of the piece.
Alex is a welder – a woman in a man’s world – at a factory in Pittsburg – by day and an exotic dancer at a down-at-heel club by night. She dreams of going legit as a dancer and attending the Shipley Academy. First, she has to pass the auditions. She is mentored by her dance teacher and mother-figure Hannah – and distracted by her rich boyfriend and son of factory owner Nick. As well as being a high-energy musical, this is the classic girl from the wrong side of the tracks meets spoiled rich boy – a study of the American class system and industrial decline.
Though written and set in the 1980s, the story is now in the Trump era and his agenda to resurrect the ‘Rust Bowl’ echoes meaning down the decades. It is those themes and a script that is sassy and intelligent that elevates the show from simply being a collection of dance routines – however inventive, fast and furious.
It is a credit to everyone of the cast that they imbue their character with individuality. Clifton plays against type as the tough, wise-cracking Alex. She has an excellent leading man in former boy band member Ben Adams – who plays an earnest and caring Nick.
Hollie-Ann Lowe stops the show with a heart-felt rendition of Gloria – a song about the dancer, and woman, who is always out of step with every one else. Other songs include the belter I Love Rock and Roll, the ear-throbbing, body-popping Maniac, the sexy Chameleon Girls and the erotic, exotic Manhunt. But it’s the best known song of all – What A Feeling – that sets the heart-beating, the feet-tapping and the hands-clapping. Great performances, amazing dance routines and sensational singing bring Alex’s story of love and ambition to glorious life.
To March 17, at the Alhambra, Bradford, April 3-7.