Thursday, June 27, 2013
Theater review: Fluffy and fun, you’ll love Flashdance from Dallas Summer Musicals
Walk into the Music Hall without your Sondheim sunglasses on.
Don't you find it a tad nostalgic when certain songs, motion pictures, or TV shows zap you back in time and put you smack dab into that period of your life? The 1983 film Flashdance does that for me. I was in my first real romantic relationship when that film flickered across the silver screen. I also remember dancing my booty off to its oh-so-familiar songs. Who cannot detect those familiar techno/disco overlays from composer Giorgio Moroder, who composed the title song? Songs such as "What a Feeling," "Maniac," and "Gloria," among others from the film's score, weaved so deeply into that part of my life. So when they pop up on the radio, or the film is on cable, my memories immediately transport me back to that very special part of my life.
When the film premiered, it was met with negative reviews by the critics. But the general public obviously ignored the reviews, for it became a monster box office hit and the third highest grossing film of 1983. The title song even won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
I found the film thoroughly entertaining. Sure, it was cheesy fluff and did stretch realism a bit thin, but it somehow swept you up in all that romance and emotion. Flashdance is about a girl named Alex who by day works as a welder in a steel mill in Pittsburgh but by night is an exotic dancer in a nightclub. She dreams of joining the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance and Repertory. Alex falls in love with a darkly handsome rich dude, her best friend wants to be a figure skater, and all the while Alex lives in converted warehouse with her drooling dog.
My heart swelled with such glee during the scene involving Alex's audition for the ballet company because it is such a tense, awkward and exciting sequence. I think those of us who audition time and time again can empathize with Alex in that scene. The musical numbers at Mawby's, a bar and grill, were so intoxicating thanks to its sensual, athletic choreography, the mini-sets, costumes and makeup ... and that music. The editing of those numbers greatly influenced future directors of movie musicals and elevated the art form of MTV videos.
The film has scenes that have become iconic and memorable. Why? Who knows, but they stay stuck like sticky gum on the brains of film audiences, like the aforementioned musical numbers and Alex's audition. But remember the famous lobster eating scene? Who knew a lobster could be so erotic and sexy! Then there’s the scene where the girls are working out, sweating, and gossiping about boys; or when Alex is conversing while taking her bra off underneath her shirt without missing a beat. Plus, who can forget the fashion statements of leg warmers and the sweatshirt with its collar cut off? That created a fashion trend that still lives to this day. And of course, what about the infamous "sit on a chair and let water from the sky splash on me" routine! I've always wanted to walk into an audition with a bucket of water and recreate that scene for my "16 bars." Just to see the reaction on the production team’s faces would be worth it. I’d leave that audition looking like I just survived the Titanic, squishing all the out way out the door!
The film brought us an unknown actress named Jennifer Beals who became an overnight sensation when the film premiered.
Now, years later, there are scenes and situations in the film that really don't make logical sense. Take the nightclub Mawby's. They call it an exotic nightclub but the girls never really strip. But it is also a diner. That was a bit perplexing. Now I've only been to a strip club once in my life (fraternity brother's bachelor party – oye, don't ask!). Those girls did not have mini-sets, themed costumes, and full out choreographed routines like they did in the film. Also, at auditions, you don't dance to an album you brought from home. At least not at the auditions I've been at.
The film also has a bit of scandal regarding Alex’s audition number for the Ballet Panel. It was revealed that a dancer Marine Jahan actually performed a major portion of not only Alex's (Jennifer Beals) ballet audition but also several of Beals' other musical numbers. Also, if you look closely at that audition sequence, when Alex hits the floor and does that break dancing movement of spinning on her back at the audition, that's actually a boy in drag! Beals and Jahan could not execute that so the director and choreographer used one of the break dancers you see earlier in the film. If you remember, as Alex and her best friend walk home, they see in the alley a set of boys doing break dancing with spinning on their heads and backs on just cardboard. Well it's actually one of those very boys in a wig and black tights doing that sequence in the ballet audition!
There was talk of a sequel because the film was such a hit, but it never came together. But now the film has been transformed into a stage musical. Flashdance The Musical had its birth in July 2008 in London. Originally the musical was set to premiere in Toronto, but that was canceled. Instead, the producers sent it out as a national tour after much reconstruction to the book and score, and a new creative team was brought in. It was supposed to arrive on Broadway this August. But now it has been postponed until later in 2014. The producers stated their reason for the postponement was due to no Broadway theater being unoccupied for their August debut. This will make the musical’s third delay to appear on The Great White Way.
This is why I am such a major supporter and cheerleader for the Dallas Summer Musicals, because Dallas audiences will get to see a totally new musical that has yet to reach Broadway. DSM brought us first Jekyll & Hyde and Bring It On before they ever reached Broadway, now they bring us Flashdance!
Before I begin my critique of the actual production, I must confess my heart was broken to discover that Broadway star Rachelle Rak has already left the tour. She is currently filming the second season of Abby Miller's Ultimate Dance Competition on Lifetime. Rak has joined the judging panel on the reality competition show and had to depart the tour. But I digress…
It is now a very reoccurring theme to convert films into stage musicals. I’ve seen so many now over the past years, and some succeed while others don’t. What separates Flashdance from the pack is its score. Many past “films into musicals” reach into the film’s score and pull out songs to use on the stage. These films tend to have a basket full of available songs.
Flashdance’s film score only contains 11 songs and the stage creators only use four of them: "Gloria,” “Manhunt,” “Manic,” and the title song. I was perplexed why they didn’t use such songs like “Lady, Lady, Lady,” “Imagination,” “Romeo,” and the major omitted song, “I’ll Be Here Where the Heart Is.”
This Kim Carnes classic is a lovely dramatic ballad that would have fit like a glove onstage. One reason they may not have used any of the other film’s songs was because they were unable to get the music rights.
The stage version of Flashdance has an overflowing armful of new songs composed by Robbie Roth. For the tour, nine of the songs from the London production have been thrown out, replaced with over a dozen new songs. It was a very smart move by Roth to pay homage to Giorgio Moroder and the film’s score by having subtle layers of '80s techno/pop themes interwoven within his own compositions. I have to admit I was quite surprised on how enjoyable these new songs are. There are a couple of clunkers here and there, but the majority of the score is riveting and melodic.
Some of my personal favorites in this freshly minted new score include, “Steeltown Sky,” “Dealbeaker,” “Put It On,” “Hannah’s Answer,” “Justice,” “Here and Now,” “My Next Step,” “Enough,” and "Let It Go.”
The melodies are entrancingly and gorgeously composed that provide really satisfying musical pleasure to your ears. For some of the up tempo numbers you do feel the dance thumping rhythms that melt into the same musical themes as the film’s songs. The ballads are lush and composed with solid belts and transitions to give them dramatic weight.
Roth and Robert Cary’s lyrics provide the audience with terrific character development and arcs, rich subtext within the characters, and move the plot onward with only a few minor hiccups here and there. Sure, there are times when the lyrics are leaning towards pedestrian and elementary, but for the most part they work harmoniously, not only with the score but also with the characters.
Tom Hedley co-wrote the screenplay, so in another astute move they brought him in to create the book along with Cary. There are quite a few cuts, changes, and omissions from film to stage. The club the girls work at is now called Harry’s and we don’t get to see the infamous lobster eating scene. In the film, Alex’s has two close friends named Tina Tech and Jeanie, whereas for the stage they are morphed into Gloria. The competing strip club in the film is called Zanzibar, now it’s called Chameleon. The dishwasher/standup comic wannabe is named Jimmy on stage, in the film he is Richie. The conflict within Alex’s relationship with Nick about having an affair is not to be found on stage.
It is a herculean task to take a film and turn it into a stage musical. As stated earlier, the film greatly elevated the art of editing and creating music videos. So to take a film that has an array of flashy, rapid, clever editing and cinematography and attempt the same cohesion for stage doesn’t always work because you just cannot recreate what is on celluloid. Thus the book does have its issues and problems.
Some scenes struggle to gain firm ground on plot movement and subtext. A couple of characters could have been edited out altogether. In the film, the character Jimmy blends well into the storyline. But in the musical he gets in the way. Now just a personal idea here: But maybe it would be a better, more engrossing idea to make bar owner Harry more of a father type who protects these girls. He does argue with his competitor CC, who owns Chameleon. Maybe Harry lost his only daughter to CC’s underworld of drugs and sleaze, thus giving him more subtext and character development to fight and battle CC. Gloria could have physically resembled Harry’s daughter. Just a thought here. Although the book does wisely take many of the iconic scenes from the film and plants them within the book. You feel you’re on a seesaw when it comes to the book; at times it goes so high into solid character development and story/plot progression but then it comes down at times with sluggish results.
In my review of the national tour of Sister Act The Musical that came to Dallas just a couple of weeks ago, I commented on how much they used mainly painted backdrops as the major set pieces. So it was such a shocking surprise and incredibly exciting to see how marvelous Klara Zieglerova’s scenic design is for Flashdance!
Zieglerova’s endless stream of moving towers and panels were created to look like the steel walls of the welding company. Within the towers actors have the ability to raise the metal flaps to reveal lots of very detailed mini-sets within these floor level cubes. These mini sets have lots of creative bric-a-brac such as the office of the ballet company and Nick’s office.
There is a voluminous gold curtain that is transformed and shaped to resemble various locations. The stages used for dancing at both clubs are beautifully designed. Harry’s club is a massive black box covered in neon lighting with an iron staircase on its left side. For the Chameleon, a series of mini stages are adorned with LED bubbles and covered in black glitter. At the Chameleon, the designer brings in a humongous Mylar curtain to give the club shimmer and sparkle. She also fashions various set pieces that glide in and out to take us from Hannah’s elegant drawing room to the run down dressing room/ backstage area at the club. Aiding Zieglerova is the phenomenal, vibrant projection design by Peter Nigrini. Throughout the entire evening he has a plethora of images moving, melting, and ever changing, flashing across the panels and towers. In a brilliant artistic choice he even has the images shift and alter to the emotion of several songs such as the big company number “My Next Step” and Alex’s big 11 o’clock number “Let Go.” The scenic and projection designs for this tour are out of this world exquisite. I was immensely impressed by them.
Howell Binkley’s lighting design matches up like the perfect twin toZieglerova’s sets and Nigrini’s projections. He envelopes the stage with a profusion of gorgeous colors. It is like he took one of those boxes of 100 Crayolas and used each and every one for his palette. He slathers the club scenes with intense hues and a terrific array of gobos and LED lighting.
Many of the songs have lighting movements and design that gives songs such as“Manhunt,” “Gloria,” “Enough,” and “Let Go” just the right aura of emotions. The lighting design here is spectacular!
The costumes designed by Paul Tazewell are perfectly detailed to take us back to the '80s. Many of the various outfits characters wear bring back memories of, “OMG! I wore that!” His attention to detail and research is clearly evident in his design. But wait until you see the marvelous costume confections for the dance numbers. In one number the girls come out in costumes of various gold fabrics like gold lamé, shimmering satins and silks, all covered in rhinestones. The women’s costumes for the dance numbers resemble a second skin on their very muscular, athletic bodies, showing every curve and muscle. I won’t spoil the surprise, but watch what Tazewell designed for Gloria’s second-act solo. Talk about a WOW moment! Tazewell’s costumes become the cherry on top of a trio of outstanding design elements that elevate the overall production to exciting heights.
I first saw (and met) Director/Choreographer Sergio Trujillo when he was one of the dancers in the original Broadway production of the Tony Award winning musical, Fosse. He stood out from the sea of dancers on that Broadhurst stage. No wonder he has segued into a highly successful career as a choreographer and director. He has choreographed and staged Broadway musicals, from the recent Hands on A Hardbody, to past credits that include Leap of Faith, Memphis, Next to Normal, The Addams Family, and Jersey Boys, among others. His choreography for Flashdance is just out of this world jaw-dropping sensational and electrifying. It is very evident that Trujillo dissected every frame of every dance number in the film. His work also shows he devoured everything he could find on the style of dance that was all the rage in the 80s. His research pays off handsomely in both his work and execution. In some numbers his choreography scorches the stage with burning eroticism and sensuality when you need those emotions explored through dance. For other numbers he synthesizes hip hop, break dancing, jazz, ballet, lyrical, and contemporary to construct some of the most wondrous, unparalleled, and yes, mind-blowing choreography that deserves a second viewing! The way he has staged many of the numbers to seamlessly jump from classical ballet, then to overtones of Martha Graham and Twyla Tharp, to break dancing then full out jazz is not only extraordinary and riveting but also brings out the rich emotion of the song.
There are so many numbers that just are so smashingly successful in not only the creation of the choreography but the execution. There are too many to list here but Trujillo’s choreography is spine tingling, out of this world, astonishing to view.
Changing hats to director, he wisely uses his dancers to help the audience follow the many scene changes from one location to another. He keeps the pace moving and gliding with great precision. It is a very wise move on his part to keep the acting natural and organic. Musicals that are contemporary are tough to pull off because it can’t be wild, with over-the-top hysterics. You need the actors to be planted firmly into realism within their acting craft. Thus more internal emotions need to be displayed on stage. Pushing for the laughs doesn’t gel for shows like this. Trujillo is very aware of this. Thus the end result is pure, organic, honest acting. Kudos also go to him for trying to work with the clunky, uneven book. As written, some scenes struggle and Trujillo still tries to find the truth and focus. Some succeed, some don’t. Nonetheless, Trujillo does a flawless job both as director and choreographer.
To find dancers that are well trained and can execute break dancing, lyrical, jazz, contemporary, and ballet with emotion and finesse is near to impossible. But Trujillo magically has found a TOUR DE FORCE company of dancers that are the scene-stealing stars of the show.
Being seated so close to the stage, it was such a sweet treat to really observe the technique and execution each dancer achieved. Trujillo does not separate the dancers in regards to their strengths. They all have to do each style of dance. And I am overwhelmed on how utterly amazing each of them are. Due to the costumes, especially for the girls, they are skin tight and designed to show off every muscle and as much body as possible. These dancers must camp out at night at the gym and live on a diet of 50 calories by the look! Talk about having a dancer’s body … WHOA! Each are toned, fit, and muscled like Grecian statues, male and female alike. These are some of the most beautiful bodies clearly reflecting what a real dancer looks like. Each dancer in this cast is resplendent in their dancing. I didn’t know where to look at times with all the high energy dancing occurring on stage! The hip hop/break dancing is sizzling and so detailed, the contemporary displays raw emotions, the jazz/pop for the dance club numbers are sensual and athletic, and the ballet is sublime. But they also sing exquisitely and stay on the same organic level of honest acting as the principals. These dancers are superlative triple threats!
There are some standouts you cannot miss seeing. Ryan Carlson is DA BOMB as the male break dancer. His technique and execution on much of the extremely difficult break dancing/hip hop choreography is dynamic and hypnotic. In another number he magically transforms into the perfect ballet dancer. You cannot take your eyes off of him because he just radiates stage presence and his dancing is so powerful.
Shane Ohmer and Andrea Spiridonakos are the two main ballet dancers and are so magical and elegant to watch. They have several duets in the show, one is ethereal and another is very modern and Avant garde. These two have unbreakable chemistry that seeps into their dancing. They remind me of the famous ballet duo Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, both in their dancing and physicality.
If you are fan of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, then you will immediately recognize Jakob Karr as one of the finalists of Season 6. The second he appeared on stage my brain zeroed in on him and I thought, “Isn’t that Jakob from SYTYCD?” I had not read my Playbill at that time. Each time he appears, his stage presence draws you in to observe his technique and execution of the choreography. He masters each style with peerless, first rate success. He has a rare quality so few dancers have in that indefinable, extra something special that makes him stand out from the pack. At intermission I finally read my Playbill and sure enough, it was him! Karr’s dancing gloriously displays why he was a deserving finalist on the Fox hit reality show.
Within this awesome cast are other very impressive performances. Christian Whelan looks like a giant of pure muscle as CC, the sleazy owner of Chameleon. A towering man, he oozes villain to the core. Costumed in those oh-so-familiar shiny '80s suits, topped off with gold chains and diamond rings, he is the pimp Eminem of the strip club scene! Whelan is aware he could be boxed in as the stereotypical pimp/villain but very wisely avoids this trap. He creates the role with a good dose of dark intensity and Machiavellian overtones that give the character great presence on stage. Hell, he made even me nervous. He is like a caged beast that could and would strike at any moment.
David R. Gordon as Jimmy has an uphill battle in the way the character is written. It just never connects within the storyline and book. Even his one solo, “Where I Belong,” just seems off kilter. It is not Gordon’s fault whatsoever because he is very entertaining and does have a solid tenor voice. He fares much better in the duet with Gloria, “Remember Me.” Gordon gives it his all but, alas, the character is too bare and thinly written.
Dan Kohler as Andy delivers both a mirthful, yet moving performance as the steel worker who is desperately trying to keep his job. This is another paper thin role as written but Kohler’s acting choices and stage presence creates a fully-fleshed character. Kohler also has the great pleasure of re-creating the iconic dancing traffic cop from the film!
In the stage version, Gloria is not a figure skater wanna be like she is in the film. In the stage version she wants to be a dancer and star of MTV videos like Madonna.
Kelly Felthous portrays this innocent blonde pixie girl who is seduced by the evil CC. Gloria soon falls into the steel trap of drugs, booze, and brutal force CC has placed her in to become his main attraction stripper. Felthous, whose voice reminds you of Kristen Chenoweth, delivers a very funny, sweet, touching performance.
She sings with a lilting soprano voice that works magically in her songs such as her duet with Jimmy, “Remember Me.” She has a scene-stealing whopper of a second act number titled “Chameleon Girls,” and then later a darker version of Laura Brannagin’s mega hit “Gloria.” Hers is another smashing performance in a cast of riches.
Jo Ann Cunningham and the creators completely retooled and did a full 180 degree turnaround in regards to the role of Hannah. In the film, she is a sweet, soft-spoken elderly lady who I think has a Russian accent if memory serves me right. She is Alex’s mentor as her ballet teacher and soothsayer. For the stage she is still regal and elegant but has a deliciously wicked sense of humor and more get up and go juice than the film’s Hannah. While she may have a nurse aide, Hannah still stands on her own. Cunningham wins the audience over with her talent and warm stage presence.
She has a hilarious number titled “Hannah’s Answer” that is one of the best character development songs of the night. The lyrics are hysterical and give Hannah her subtext. Cunningham sells that number like it was the finale and achieves grand success with this song. You can’t help but fall in love with Cunningham and her work in this production.
Getting some of the biggest laughs of the night is a featured role, Louise, portrayed by Thursday Farrar. Louise is Hannah’s nurse aide. Farrar hits every comedic line right on its target. I actually remember Farrar in the 1988 national tour of Les Miserables as Fantine. She was remarkable in the role. I again saw her in the original company of Elton John’s Aida on Broadway. So I know what powerful vocals she possesses. Her chemistry with Cunningham is vivid and I so wish they had composed a duet for these two women. Hannah even says a line that she’s going to have to fire her because she is beginning to like her. That screams “Insert duet here!” Hopefully they will down the road. Farrar deserves her shining vocal moment because the audience adores her!
Katie Webber as Tess and Dequina Moore as Kiki are Alex’s close friends and fellow dancers at Harry’s. Both women have the bodies and gorgeous faces that make mere mortal men fall to their feet and proclaim their devotion and love to them. They are modern day Helens of Troy. Their glittery, glitzy costumes are cut and designed to show off those well-toned bodies and legs to fierce success! They, along with Felthous in some numbers, serve as a Greek chorus for Alex.
Webber (who looks like a younger Raquel Welch) gets the great fortune of singing for her big solo, Joan Jett’s rock anthem classic “I Love Rock and Roll.” Wait till you see what this sexy goddess is wearing for that number! Webber slithers and dances on that stage with waves of sensuality and athletic force that I swear I heard fire trucks arriving outside! That’s how burning hot Webber is in that number.
One of my favorite indie films is the 2003 film Camp. This is about a group of kids at a musical theater summer camp. One of the numbers in the film is “Turkey Lurkey Time” from the musical Promises, Promises. A trio of girls leads this song and dance classic. Well, one of those girls is none other than Dequina Moore! She has now grown into a alluring and bewitching woman with a body that will make Beyoncé throw in the towel ‘cause she knows she met her match. Moore’s stage presence and feline-like body movements remind one of the late Eartha Kitt. All that’s missing is a soft purr! She has one of the show-stopping numbers with the mega hit “Manhunt.” Moore is surrounded by muscularly-chiseled men dressed in leather as she devours the lyrics and choreography for this number. Dressed in a barely there red-beaded costume and thigh high boots, Moore is a combination of dominatrix, vixen and seductress. She treats her male dancers like boy toys, discarding them like Kleenex with a flick of her arm or leg. She’s a powerhouse in Flashdance.
Webber, Moore, and Felthous get the great honor of singing two of the most well-known songs from the film score, the disco/techno classic hit “Maniac,” and the Oscar-winning title song, “What a Feeling,” as Alex auditions for the ballet staff. They also have a hysterical new song titled “Put It On.” These three women really explode with vocal power in their songs.
Nick Hurley, portrayed by Matthew Hydzik, is the rich heir to the Hurley Steel mill. But he actually wants to fit in as one of the guys on the warehouse floor, where he meets and immediately falls in love with Alex. Their relationship struggles throughout the evening due to a separation of class (he rich, she not) as well as positions at work (he the boss, she the employee). Hydzik is tall and boyishly handsome with a twinkle in his eye. He sings with a splendorous tenor voice with his songs that slides effortlessly into falsetto when required. He has several great songs throughout the musical. One of the best is his solo, “Enough.” Here, he is so exhausted emotionally in trying to uphold the Hurley dynasty and not follow his family and the board’s ruthless instructions to cut down and lay off workers. He so desperately wants to get out of the spoiled rich boy spotlight and show Alex he is a man of worth and value. The song gives him solid character subtext within its lyrics and Hydzik fully exposes those emotions. This is a very gifted actor/singer who lets organic, honest emotion exemplify his craft. He doesn’t push the comedy or the dramatic overtones; he simply and consistently stays in the moment. The book does fail him here and there but Hydzik knows exactly where to leap over those problematic issues to still give his characterization truth and growth.
Jillian Mueller has the toughest role of the night, that of Alex Owens. Everyone remembers Jennifer Beals in that role. So not only does she have to create her own voice and vision of the role, but she also has to carry the show as she is the main focus of both song and book. Mueller hands down succeeds here. She is an angelic beauty with gorgeous expressive eyes. The only physical quality that reflects Beals is her mane of wavy, curly dark brown hair. Mueller creates her own vision of Alex. And she gets to do the infamous “take the bra off from under the sweatshirt” scene from the film!
Mueller has a pulchritudinous soprano voice that can belt to the rafters or murmur in a soft whisper. She has a bounty load of songs that she has to sing all night long including duets and company numbers. Mueller works her vocal finesse to make each song work its wonders. My favorite solo number of hers is “Let Go” in the second act. Here she lets her vocals fly high in the air, giving the song vocal muscular strength. She gives Alex the aura of a lost girl who is fine on being controlled of her own life & destiny. She only lets her closest friends near to her heart. Mueller has precise, honest chemistry with every cast member on stage, be it chorus or supporting. Like Hydzik, Mueller is aware of the pot holes hiding within the book but she creates such a solid character that finds and covers those pot holes to help her character arc achieve success.
Then there is her dancing. Can this girl DANCE! Be it ballet, break dance, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, or good ol’ Broadway razzle dazzle, she executes each style with superior, stunning results. She will amaze you with her dance technique. Her ballet audition is one of the major choreographed highlights and show-stopping numbers of the entire musical. Throughout the show Alex sees ballet or break dancers on the streets or dancing in the ballet school. So during her audition, Mueller dances those same styles full out where she is met by the very same dancers who influenced her to create her solo. It’s an ingenious idea that pays off for Mueller in this very iconic scene. And wait until you see what she does with the “splashing water from the rafters” number that was so memorable from the film. I’ll let you find that out for yourself!
The chemistry between Hydzik and Mueller is vital to the piece. If it’s not there, it makes for a cumbersome, snore-inducing production. Thankfully both actors have magnetic energy that seals their love story in honesty and believability. They play off each other like a well-oiled machine. They have several duets sprinkled throughout the musical, such as “Deal Breaker,” “Here and Now,” and “Hang On,” each one a tuneful bauble of musical radiance. Hydzik and Mueller are the heart and soul of this production.
Flashdance The Musical will not sit well for the die hard “Stephen Sondheim” purists. You know the type; those individuals who stick their noses high in the air and think only certain forms of theater are acceptable. That it must be art, revolutionary, and move the achievement of musical theater to lofty and exalted results. These holier than thou demand theater be covered in subtext and drenched in unspoken dramatic tones to make it a real piece of musical theater.
I’m all for that. I love the dark, subtext-layered, dramatic, revolutionary pieces of musical theater. There are several musicals that have achieved that for me along with the snooty, “I have my English Lit. / Journalism degree” crowds. But sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy fluffier musicals that are smartly aware they are not there to change the art form of musical theater. They are not there to achieve the holy grail of artistic refinery of Sondheim. Instead, they just want to create a fun, satisfying evening of musical theater. And that is exactly what Flashdance The Musical does. For those who so loved the film, they will be exceedingly satisfied and greatly entertained.
So walk into the Music Hall without your Sondheim sunglasses on. Open your eyes, sit back and enjoy a really exceptional evening of musical theater. Yes, there are issues with the book, and some songs just don’t work. But you’ll overlook those flaws because the design elements are so lavish and grand and the choreography (and execution of it) is phenomenal! Finally, this cast is so commanding and impressive you cannot phantom how they can do all that with such energy and enjoyment. That’s the true magic of musical theater!
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