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What a feeling: ‘Flashdance’ fever

Pic takes nearly 20 years to make it to stage

NEW YORK — “Flashdance” will soon be a stage musical.

The Adrian Lyne-directed film has been packaged as a legit vehicle by the touring division of William Morris, which expects to have the tuner up and running for the 2002-2003 season with new songs co-written by original composer Giorgio Moroder.

“The film is so performance-oriented,” said Susan Weaving, vice-president of WMA’s touring division. “With ‘Flashdance,’ you’re not adapting a soundtrack to characters, which is always the challenge with movie-to-stage adaptations. The film is about live performance.”

In the 1983 hit film, Jennifer Beals plays a blue-collar worker who moonlights as an exotic dancer but harbors ambitions of being a ballet dancer. The movie’s numerous dance numbers were uncredited but performed by Marine Jahan, Beals’ dance double. Weaving said the star of the stage musical “Flashdance” would have to sing and dance.

Considering the current vogue of stage musicals based on movies, it’s surprising that “Flashdance” has taken nearly 20 years to make the transition to legit.

Long road to approvals

“It was hard to follow the trail of rights,” Weaving said of the Paramount Pictures release, which spawned a Universal/Polygram soundtrack that sold 700,000 copies in its first two weeks. Two years ago, the VP discovered that Thomas Hedley Jr., who wrote the original story for “Flashdance,” was repped by Joni Evans, a WMA literary agent. “Once I found him, I found out the story on the rights,” said Weaving.

Giorgio Moroder, who composed the original score for “Flashdance,” is currently working with lyricist Michael Kunze on writing at least 10 new songs for the musical version of “Flashdance.” Moroder said his song from the film, “Flashdance, What a Feeling,” with lyrics by Irene Cara, would be used for the stage version, as well as Michael Sembello’s “Maniac,” the film’s other hit single.

According to the composer, he and Kunze, who is writing the tuner’s book, have finished six songs for the stage musical, which will be the composer’s first foray into legit.

Kunze has been involved as book writer and lyricist on several European stage musicals, including “Elizabeth” and “Dance of the Vampires,” based on the Roman Polanski film “The Fearless Vampire Killers.” “Vampires” has often been mentioned as a possible Broadway transfer.

Back to basics

Hedley shared screenplay credit with Joe Eszterhas on “Flashdance.” Moroder commented, “This show will be based on Hedley’s original story, and he holds those rights.”

The William Morris Agency also packaged the long-touring “Fame — the Musical” and “Barry Manilow’s Copacabana,” neither of which have played Gotham.

Weaving said that Broadway remained a definite option for “Flashdance.”

“There’s great interest in North America for all the major markets,” she said.

Both she and Moroder mentioned a possible sit-down engagement for the show in Las Vegas.

Kunze, who lives in Munich, could not be reached for comment.