Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"Flashdance" Rock Out at Broward Center

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By Skip Sheffield

“Flashdance The Musical,” continues through March 17 at Broward Center for the Arts. It is a Broadway show for the masses raised on rock ‘n’ roll- specifically 1980s rock music and MTV videos.
As a stage musical “Flashdance” debuted in the U.K. in 2008. It was based on the 1983 movie starring Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri. The movie was slagged critically, but it became a popular success anyway. Irene Cara had a No. 1 hit and an Academy Award for Giorgio Moroder’s “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” which became its theme song.
This production is new and tailored for American audiences for a national tour and eventual Broadway opening. Like the movie “Flashdance” is not high art, but it certainly is high energy.
Emily Padget stars as Alexandra “Alex” Owens, the role originated by Jennifer Beals.
Beals had a dance double in the movie. Padget does all her own moves, and she is most impressive. So is her voice, which is powerful and soars to unexpected heights. Oh yes, and she is very attractive, befitting the role of an 18-year old Pittsburgh iron foundry welder by day and exotic dancer by night. Despite the easy bucks Alex can pick up at Harry’s (Matthew Henderson) friendly nightclub, what she really would like to be is a serious professional dancer; a ballerina even.
Alex is encouraged in her quest by her mentor Hannah (Joan Cunningham), a retired ballerina. If Alex can pass an audition to snooty Shipley Academy perhaps she can win a scholarship.
A big reason critics scoffed at “Flashdance” was because of its unlikely, unbelievable basic plot.
Hey, critics scoffed at “Rocky” too, and look what happened there.
Making the story unlikelier still is Alex’s love interest: Nick Hurley (a beautifully-refined tenor Matthew Hydzik), whose family owns the iron factory where Alex has her day job.
A subplot is the order to force Nick to cut jobs at the foundry. How can he do this and woo fair Alex too?
Another subplot centers on Alex’s best girlfriend Gloria (Kelly Felthous), a fellow dancer who is being lured away by sleazy strip club owner C.C. (played with thuggish relish by Christian Whelan), who isn’t above hooking his girls on booze and drugs.
Yes, what you have here is a romantic cliff-hanger melodrama, with high-kicking choreography, high volume rock music, highly-spirited vocal performances and brilliant MTV-style graphics. The small, keyboard-heavy, electronically-enhanced pit band has a couple of radically ripping guitarists and an ace bassist. Anthems like “Maniac,” “I Love Rock and Roll” and “Gloria” are guaranteed to get an audience off its seats. Judging by the opening night reception, “Flashdance” should enjoy standing ovations nightly.
Tickets start at $39.50. Call 954-462-0222 or go to www.browardcenter.org.

3 comments:

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