FLASHDANCE Is A Maniac Of A Musical
When the film of Flashdance was unveiled in the early 1980’s, it was considered somewhat revolutionary as it was the first of its genre to incorporate an MTV music video vibe into cinematic format. Add to that a sensational anthem (What A Feeling!), sung by Irene Cara and a lead character that begged for your attention (the phenomenal Jennifer Beals as Alex) and Flashdance, the film is revered by most of its generation as iconic, including myself .
The idea of transforming the film into a staged musical seamed a natural fit, and though it took a few decades for the Flashdance The Musical to finally open in London in 2010, the reception was not kind. Plans to open in New York were put on hold and the book and score were reworked into the version now on display at the Cadillac Palace. Flashdance is now on a cross country pre-Broadway national tour, but like Jekyll and Hyde which came through earlier this year, its likelihood of success on the Great White Way is very limit
Flashdance The Musical follows its film predecessor closely, where we find our (anti) heroine Alex working days in a Pittsburg steel mill and nights in an adult dance bar. Alex dreams of a life as a professional ballerina/dancer and fights in inner battle of self preservation to get up the strength to audition for the premiere ballet company in the state. With the help of her mentor (the stellar Jo Ann Cunningham), Alex begins her journey of self discovery, while coming to terms with loving her rich boss and being a mentor to her her own friends who look to her for strength and guidance in a blue collar town which is slowly being eaten up by a new economy.
The main issue with Flashdance The Musical is that it cannot decide what it wants to be and commit to it. At times it is nothing more than a glorified music video, while others it is a vibrant stage musical akin to Sweet Charity. During the almost two and a half hours we feel that we are on a yo-yo getting pulled back and forth into different conceptual ideas that are never fully realized. Much of that can be blamed on the music and lyrics by Robbie Roth and Robert Clay which are never character based and instead, each song in the show could be sung by a different character without consequence.
That said, there are several bright spots of this show, first and foremost the cast, which is lead by the no-nonsense Jillian Mueller who commands each scene that she is in and has the audience eating out of her hand. The direction and choreography by Sergio Trujillo are fantastically unique while at the same time keeping the spirit of the movie’s iconic symbolism; while the set by Klara Zieglerova, lighting by Howell Binkley and projections by Peter Nigrini all come together nicely to give the feel of a urban steel community on the brink of collapse.
Flashdance The Musical, does have the opportunity to heel and fix itself before being put under the big ole spotlight of Broadway. The fix, by the way, is right there in the original message of the film.
Flashdance The Musical plays through August 18, 2013 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Tickets range from $18-$85 and can be purchased at the Cadillac Palace located at 151 West Randolph or any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by phone at 800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com For more info you can also visit www.flashdancethemusical.com
For calendar information visit www.TheatreInChicago.com