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Theater Review: “Flashdance the Musical” sometimes a feeling


Iconic moment from the movie makes it into the musical (photo Kyle Froman)

“Flashdance – the Musical” danced into the Paramount Theatre last night wagging its behind and flashing a whole lotta extreme abs. You may not have heard about this show because the musical stage version of the iconic 1980s blockbuster movie is just now making the rounds of various cities for the first time, having not yet made any splash on Broadway.

There is another cast working on different material for a hoped-for Broadway opening in August, 2013. Let’s hope they get a few things fixed before they open on Broadway.

As seriously as the movie took itself, there was a pervasive tongue-in-cheekness to it that helped people know it was not the most important subject matter. Girl meets rich guy, spurns him, finally gives in to his persistence. She happens to be a welder who wants to be a ballet dancer – oh, and who moonlights as a dancer at a club where dancers keep at least some clothes on. He happens to be the grandson of the large corporate entity she welds for.

The movie dancing was great, the music was instantly grabbable and made quick Top 40 hits of many of the songs.

The stage version keeps the songs, though how they get shoe-horned into the musical sometimes saps them of their original power. And then adds more, too many more, and too bland. A couple of them lift the boring book out of a mild doldrum, like Dealbreaker and Justice. Songs like Just Out of Reach, sung by Alex (an appealing but not quite inspiring Emily Padgett) about how she longs to try out for ballet school but is intimidated, are just too earnest and precious to help the mood.

Director and choreographer Sergio Trujillo has some great choreography in there, with terrific dancers, especially the breakdance segments, and some very marginal choreography that tended toward repetitiveness and wearing out its welcome.

Padgett, most recently on Broadway in Rock of Ages, has the body, the dance moves, and the voice to take on this difficult role. However, there is something less charismatic about her than is needed, at least for this role, and she fails to make us care about Alex. She’s good, but she’s also far from the best dancer on the stage, so some awkward change-out moments have to happen to bring another dancer in to do some higher level steps.

Kelly Felthous as Gloria has more personality and pizzazz, and a better vocal quality. Since she didn’t have to dance nearly as much, it’s hard to say whether she’d be able to manage the rest of the role of Alex. As Gloria, she was one of the best aspects of the tour.

Matthew Hydzik as Nick, the rich guy, has a great voice. Whether he is a bit on the stiff side, or he was directed to be on the stiff side, is hard to say. It would be great to see what he can do in a different role. Nick is underwritten and bland to the point of boring, so far.

Overall, the presentation is too earnest, too serious and too, too much. It’s too long, too repetitious, and needs a whole lot of fat trimming. Still, it does have the great songs from the ’80s, and when it laughs at itself, has the potential to be fun.

Upcoming cities and dates:

Portland, OR 4/23-28

Tempe, AZ 4/30-5/5

Costa Mesa, CA 5/7-5/19

Houston, TX 6/4-15

San Antonio, TX 6/18-23

Dallas, TX 6/25-7/7

Kansas City, MO 7/9-14

Chicago, IL 8/6-18

Memphis, TN 9/17-22

Indianapolis, IN 10/1-6

Hartford, CT 10/15-20