What a feeling!

Flashdance The Musical, Ipswich Regent, until Saturday

IT has to have one of the most famous theme tunes to have come out of the 1980s - and is probably on many a favourite old films list.

First released in 1983, the film Flashdance told the story of Alex Owens, a feisty and independent woman who juggled a day job as a steel worker with nights as an exotic dancer.

But what Alex really wants it to be a professional dancer and must fight against all the odds to achieve her dream of getting to stage school.

Add in plenty of leg-warmers, high kicks and eighties music and you have an Oscar and multi-award winning film.

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Cut forward to today and Flashdance has been turned into a stage production with just as many leg-warmers.

With choreography by Strictly Come Dancing's Arlene Phillips - whose Hot Gossip dance troupe epitomised the eighties style - you know you're in for a treat.

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Still telling the story of Alex, the musical version includes many more songs, which of course means more opportunities to get the leg warmers out.

On the whole, the dancing becomes the main part of this production, with the storyline just a vehicle to move it along. And again, on the whole, it is all superb, with the entire cast energetically working their eighties-slouch-socks off. There is just one, strange and overly stylised dream sequence that lets the rest of the choreography down - but I think we can forgive even Arlene for one dodgy routine.

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, an excellent performer, is well cast as Alex and plays the tough-nut with a dream with great spirit. A somewhat surprisingly good performance comes from Noel Sullivan as love interest Nick Hurley - who is a far cry from Noel's days in pop group Hear'say.

Bernie Nolan proves she can still belt out a song or two as Alex's mother while former Coronation Street star Bruno Langley shows his dark side as the villain of the show.

As Alex's friend Gloria, Ruthie Stephens puts in a very impressive vocal performance and deserved higher billing.

I'm not ashamed to admit Flashdance is a favourite eighties film of mine and whilst this show is less about the story and more about the dance, you certainly don't feel short-changed.

Go and I promise you'll enjoy it. Whether you'll be able to get the words to What a Feeling out of your head afterwards is another question altogether.

Helen Johns

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