Make us your home page
Instagram

Review: 'Flashdance' translates well to the stage

Flashdance: The Musical is a faithful adaptation of the ’80s movie, complete with inventive choreography.

Photo by Kyle Froman

Flashdance: The Musical is a faithful adaptation of the ’80s movie, complete with inventive choreography.

TAMPA — Let's not overthink Flashdance: The Musical. At this time of year, there are lots of visitors to Florida looking for something to do, and I bet quite a few end up at this show, based on the '80s movie that made big hair, torn sweatshirts and leg warmers all the rage, not to mention catchy songs like Maniac and What a Feeling.

That's why Broadway producers fall all over themselves for the rights to name-brand musicals, and there was a crowd of 2,122 on hand Tuesday for the opening of Flashdance at the Straz Center. The people around me seemed to be having a good time, comparing the stage performers to their counterparts onscreen ("He even looks like Nick in the movie," a woman said, referring to Matthew Hydzik, who plays the Hurley Steel scion).

In two respects, the musical gets things right for fans of the movie. Emily Padgett, who plays Alex, the Pittsburgh welder by day and barroom stripper — well, not totally — at night who aspires to become a break-dancing ballerina, is an appealing presence, a lanky charmer with curly dark hair. And director-choreographer Sergio Trujillo has given her and the rest of the company plenty of interesting movement to do.

Trujillo is known for his inventive choreography in Jersey Boys, Memphis and other musicals, and his staging for Flashdance succeeds when it doesn't take things too seriously. The show has a cut-rate cartoony look (scenic design by Klara Zieglerova), and there is an undercurrent of tongue-in-cheek spoofery to the ballet steps, while the rapid hip-hop numbers are done with a virtuosity befitting Swan Lake.

Padgett has the limber athleticism for Alex's showy leaps and spins, but she also shines in less supercharged dancing — tossing off a witty little moon walk in the opening number — and is a decent belter in the big I-want aria Just Out of Reach. Her relationship with Hydzik's amiable Nick has a wisecracking playfulness.

Under Nate Patten the music is performed (loudly) by a small band with much electronic sampling. Interestingly, the credits don't mention Giorgio Moroder, the producer who compiled the disco-rock score that made the movie a smash (RIP Laura Branigan and her rendition of Gloria). Along with the golden oldies that provide the show's rationale, Robbie Roth (music and lyrics) and Robert Cary (lyrics) supply a functional set of songs to move the story along.

Two of the new numbers work well: Put It On, featuring Kiki (Dequina Moore) and Tess (Rachelle Rak), a pair of seasoned dancers who school Alex and her BFF, Gloria (Kelly Felthous); and Justice, with guys from the steel mill wielding shovels and sledge hammers as they chide Nick after he struck out with Alex.

However, because Flashdance the movie was basically one long music video, the book (by Tom Hedley and Cary) is inevitably the weak link onstage. The fairy-tale courtship of Alex and Nick doesn't neglect such famous moments as her slinky bra removal, and her water number brings down the Act 1 curtain to Maniac. But the subplots grow tiresome.

Will Gloria and her unfunny comedian boyfriend, Jimmy (David R. Gordon), get back together? Will the Chameleon, a pole-dancing palace, put Harry's, the bar where Alex and Gloria perform, out of business? (Matthew Henerson's Harry is terrific as a working stiff with musical theater style.) Will Nick come up with a plan to avoid layoffs at the mill? Will Alex's salty mentor, Hannah (Joann Cunningham), live long enough to see her plucky charge make like Billy Elliot?

And, most important, will What a Feeling ever be heard? Yes, of course, but oddly, Trujillo's choreography is least inspired in the finale, when Alex performs her audition at Shipley Academy to the song everyone is waiting for.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8716.

.if you go

Flashdance has six shows through Sunday at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa. Run time: 2 hours, 30 minutes, including intermission. $44.50-$89.50. (813) 229-7827 or 1-800-955-1045; strazcenter.org.

Review: 'Flashdance' translates well to the stage 02/20/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 6:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 24

    Events

    Zac Brown Band: The country, folk and Southern rockers embark on the "Welcome Home" tour in support of the album. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $27.50-$77.50. (813) 740-2446.

    Handout photo of the Zac Brown Band, performing at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on 9/24/17. Credit: Shore Fire Media
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 23

    Events

    Smithsonian Museum Day Live: Museums across the nation partner with the Smithsonian to offer free admission for one day. Among them are Florida Holocaust Museum, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.Cracker Country in Tampa, Ringling Museum of Art. Note: Dalí Museum is free for Pinellas County …

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)
  3. Tampa Repertory's 'Flying' soars in some places, sputters in others

    Stage

    TAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre has always insisted on putting on plays that mean something. Several shows over the last couple of years have zeroed in on the social and cultural baggage that comes with being female (The Children's Hour, Silent Sky and Grounded come to mind). None of those …

    The Southeastern premiere of Flying, Sheila Cowley's play at Tampa Repertory Theatre about veterans of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots, includes (from left) Holly Marie Weber, Rosemary Orlando, and Becca McCoy. Photo by Megan Lamasney.
  4. After 22 years, it's last call for beloved Ybor venue New World Brewery

    Music & Concerts

    YBOR CITY — Steve Bird spreads his tools across a patio table. He has awnings to unbolt and paraphernalia to unpry, from the busted Bop City neon by the stage to the Simpsons "El Duffo o Muerte" mural in the courtyard. He'll uproot a fountain and dismantle a roof and attempt to keep his bar intact. The …

    Various decor and memorabilia fill the walls and shelves at New World Brewery in Ybor City.
Long time music venue and hangout New World Brewery in Ybor City will be closing it's doors and moving locations. Patrons enjoy one of the last events before New World Brewery changes its location to Busch Blvd in Tampa.  [Photo Luis Santana | Times]