“Flashdance” was a very popular film in 1983, despite the
fact that most critics panned it. Critics do not always
reflect popular taste. Twenty-five years later, it was
converted into a stage musical and opened in London. At
present, it is touring the U.S. and Canada, including in
Milwaukee at the Marcus Center for The Performing Arts, and is
soon to have a Broadway opening.
show’s strongest appeal and entertainment value lie in the
dancing. It is muscular, angular, strong and visceral. The
music has a strong, unrelenting beat, and though compelling,
could use a little variety. A few softer ballads would have
offered a nice contrast and helped us feel the emotion of the
love relationships. But that’s not the fault of the
production; it’s the weakness of the writing.
Morton as Alex is a very strong lead. There are probably not
too many leading ladies who are this powerful as both
vocalists and dancers. In fact, the whole ensemble of dancers
has to be athletic and flexible to meet the demands of these
dance numbers. Morton totally holds our attention, and the
fact that Alex, a welder, has dreams of being a dancer
provides an unexpected twist.
Ewing as Tess and Dequina Moore as Kiki both perform with
vigor and pizzazz as the sexy dancers in Harry’s club. Ginna
Claire Mason as Gloria is not as impressive a dancer, but her
sweetness offers some welcome difference in temperament to the
tougher, more seasoned characters. Her rendition of
“Remember Me” is memorable.
Mach, who plays Nick, the wealthy new boss at the steel mill
where Alex works, has a lovely tenor voice, but there is
little appreciable chemistry between him and Morton. Her power
diminishes him somehow. In fact, the only time I felt any
tenderness in any of the relationships was in the one between
Alex and her older friend and mentor Hannah. She was the one,
above all, who believed in Alex’s dream of becoming a
dancer, and her song about the rigorous life of a dancer, so
movingly performed by Madeleine Doherty, was the number that
touched me most.
is a glitzy show with dramatic scenic changes (Klara
Zieglerova) and striking costumes (Paul Tazewell) and vigorous
choreography (Jim Abbott and Edgar Godineaux), and
driving music (Doug Besterman), and those are the
elements that are most fascinating and engaging.
the film comes first, comparisons will be made, especially if
people loved the stars who played the leading roles. But there
are often different requirements for live performers, so
comparisons aren’t really fair, but I predict that they will
be made, nonetheless.
of someone pursuing a dream is an old one, and one with
universal appeal, which is probably why it has been told so
many times and in so many different ways, but this show with
its robust dancing and powerful beat puts a fresh face on an
old theme. Not much substance, too little heartfelt romance,
but definitely good entertainment, nonetheless.