Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Theater Review: Flashdance The Musical

Filed under: Performing Arts — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:44


The soon-to-be headlining Broadway musical Flashdance comes to Orlando this week. Opening on Tuesday, the show runs through Sunday at the Bob Carr Center for the Performing Arts. The show is a fun and energetic production that features mostly original songs punctuated by the classic songs from the 1980’s that made the movie the show is based on so iconic. But it isn’t the songs, acting, or even dancing that’s the real star of Flashdance, it’s the incredible set design and lighting that is on par with what would be seen on a Broadway stage. Similar to recent shows like GHOST and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, the sets revolve around a series of digitally projected images that provide major structure to the show. The setting is steel-industrilaized Pittsburgh, PA and the sets largely reflect the industrial nature of the story. Set pieces are metal and provide a very manufactured-type feel. In addition to the sets, the lighting is superbly orchestrated, with the ambiance set up perfectly in nearly every scene. The orchestra is also quite strong for this touring production and left the audience impressed. The show itself has its high moments and low. The lead performer Jillian Mueller, who plays steel-worker by day and exotic dancer by night Alex Owens, hits the notes in all the right spots and is a superb dancer. She is truly the performing highlight of the show. Her costar, Corey Mach, gets the job done; but he isn’t the strongest male lead. And David R. Gordon, who plays one of the side characters, turns in a slightly weak performance that distracts from the overall quality of the show. Flashdance is under the incredible direction of Sergio Trujillo, who won the Tony Award for his direction of the absolutely legendary musical MEMPHIS. Many elements of that show are apparent here. The main pitfall of the show lies in its writing. The book is authored by Tom Hedley (who wrote the screenplay for the film) and Robert Cary. Cary also wrote the music for the show with Robbie Roth. None have any serious Broadway contributions under their belt. The story is a bit plodding; and  a serious story element fails to effectively resolve by the show’s end. But, even with those issues, the show mostly reaches its main objective: to entertain through dance and fun music. In concert with the amazing set design, Flashdance is a lot of fun. The show is heading to Broadway. I am not sure how well it will be received by the harsh critics on the Great White Way. But time will tell. With a little sharpening up of the story, it is quite possible Flashdance could find a niche where recent shows based on films like GHOST and Big Fish failed. But without some changes, it has quite an uphill battle. Check out video highlights of Flashdance courtesy of Playbill below:

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