×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Legit Review: ‘Flashdance the Musical’

With:
 With: Jillian Mueller, Matthew Hydzik, Kelly Felthous, Dequina Moore, Katie Webber, Jo Ann Cunningham, David R. Gordon, Matthew Henerson, Christian Whelan, Holly Ann Butler, Claire Camp, Derek Carley, Ryan Carlson, Natalie Caruncho, Lynorris Evans, Thursday Farrar, Charlene Hoffman, Jakob Karr, Dan Kohler, Holly Laurent, Brandt Martinez, Nick McGough, Ariela Morgenstern, Rebecca Riker, Andrea Spiridonakos, Lawrence E. Street, Halley Hannah, Shane Ohmer.

The producers of “Flashdance the Musical” have “postponed” their plans to bring the show to Broadway this summer. The new tuner, based on the Adrian Lyne-helmed pic, opened in January in Pittsburgh, and after a few months on the road it’s now playing Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Hall. What a feeling you get that this is one long, very well-deserved postponement.

The 1983 film, about a young female welder who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer, came wrapped in a feminist mystique. Alex was not only the girl with ambition who toughed it out in a man’s steel-factory, the film itself was championed by movie trailblazer Dawn Steel at Paramount Pictures who said she identified with Alex’s struggles. Steel definitely knew how to sell a movie. But calling “Flashdance” feminist is like calling “Pretty Woman” feminist because the Julia Roberts character has a job. Under Lyne’s direction, “Flashdance” cleverly posited its message of liberation amongst a lot of soft-core stripper dance sequences.

Flashdance the Musical” does the same thing, but the female performers here come off more angry than sexy. There’s also some weird double standard that Sergio Trujillo’s direction never resolves: The famous wet-costume routine that Alex (Jillian Mueller) performs at Harry’s club is somehow OK, while the routines at the Chameleon club are treated as next-door to porn. In the movie, the women in the latter establishment performed topless, which, as connoisseurs of gentlemen’s clubs well know, is so much lower-class and demeaning than dancing when doused with water. But “Flashdance the Musical” is — or was — a Broadway-bound tuner, meaning the dancers at the Chameleon don’t show all. In fact, they’re pretty much costumed like the dancers at Harry’s except that their hair is teased into a split-end nightmare. Yes, they’re clearly bad girls — so bad that they entertain us with no fewer than three numbers.

The book by Tom Hedley and Robert Cary unwisely pads Hedley and Joe Eszterhas’ screenplay. Alex’s love interest, factory-owner Nick Hurley (a fine voiced Matthew Hydzik), doesn’t just pay the ballet school to secure an audition for his girlfriend, he also now tries to prevent layoffs at the steel mill. And Alex’s wheelchair-bound dance mentor, Hannah (Jo Ann Cunningham), is now accompanied by an uppity black nurse (Thursday Farrar). Poor Hannah. She suffers from sassy help, stiff joints and memories of dancing with Martha Graham. “I practically needed an epidural!” she says of her erstwhile contractions.

Hedley and Cary’s book spares no one. Nick asks Alex, “Paris Vogue? You speak French?”

“Yeah,” she replies. “Douche.”

The book also softens Alex. In the film, she’s a real hot head who occasionally stalks her boyfriend and throws a rock through his bedroom window. Rather than perform an overt act of violence, Mueller instead sings with a voice that sounds like an air hammer run on helium.

Moviegoers and MTV watchers will know the hit songs “Manhunt,” “Maniac” and “What a Feeling.” Robbie Roth has written 16 other tunes, and the duet “Here and Now” is a keeper. But his and Cary’s lyrics simply try to make rhymes by linking cliches like “the world at your beck and call” and “in a league of my own.”

Of course, Alex makes it to her big audition at the ballet school. This is supposed to be her Cassie/”A Chorus Line” moment, but Mueller isn’t much of a dancer and Trujillo steals whatever thunder she has by bringing other dancers on to the stage for her solo. Somehow it doesn’t mess up Alex’s chances, and the ballet school accepts her. We never learn if Nick didn’t also pay for that.

Popular on Variety

Legit Review: 'Flashdance the Musical'

(Segerstrom Hall, Costa Mesa, Calif.; 3,000 seats; $92.50 top)

Production: A Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, Networks Presentations, Terri and Timothy Childs, Rick Steiner, Bell/Staton/Osher Group, Transamerica, Ivan Fecan/Sandra Faire, Douglas Meyer/James Stern with executive producer Tom Hedley in association with Paramount Pictures presentation of a new musical in two acts with book by Tom Hedley and Robert Cary, music by Roth and lyrics by Cary and Roth. Directed and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo.

Creative: Sets, Klara Zieglerova; costumes, Paul Tazewell; lighting, Howell Binkley; projections, Peter Nigrini; sound, John Shivers and David Patridge; wigs and hair, Charles LaPointe; makeup, Cookie Jordan; orchestrations, Doug Besterman; dance arrangements, Jim Abbott; flight director, Rick Sordelet; music coordinator, John Miller; associate director, David Alpert, associate choreographer, Edgar Godineaux. Opened May 7, 2013. Reviewed May 12. Running time: 2 HOURS, 30 MIN.

Cast:  With: Jillian Mueller, Matthew Hydzik, Kelly Felthous, Dequina Moore, Katie Webber, Jo Ann Cunningham, David R. Gordon, Matthew Henerson, Christian Whelan, Holly Ann Butler, Claire Camp, Derek Carley, Ryan Carlson, Natalie Caruncho, Lynorris Evans, Thursday Farrar, Charlene Hoffman, Jakob Karr, Dan Kohler, Holly Laurent, Brandt Martinez, Nick McGough, Ariela Morgenstern, Rebecca Riker, Andrea Spiridonakos, Lawrence E. Street, Halley Hannah, Shane Ohmer.

More Legit

  • Bella Bella review

    Off Broadway Review: Harvey Fierstein's 'Bella Bella'

    Harvey Fierstein is one busy guy. A Broadway institution with four Tony Awards for acting (“Torch Song Trilogy,” “Hairspray”) and playwriting (“Torch Song Trilogy,” “La Cage aux Folles”), he has also written everything from teleplays (“The Wiz Live!”, “Hairspray Live!”) to an award-winning children’s book, “The Sissy Duckling.” His movie work includes “Mrs. Doubtfire” and [...]

  • Soft Power Jeanine Tesori

    Listen: Jeanine Tesori and the 'Soft Power' of Musicals to Change Minds

    The title of “Soft Power,” the new play-cum-musical by playwright David Henry Hwang and composer Jeanine Tesori, refers to cultural influence — in this case the cultural influence of America on China, and of China on the U.S. According to Tesori, the term might also describe the force that musical theater itself can exert in [...]

  • Jane Alexander James Cromwell

    Jane Alexander, James Cromwell to Star in Broadway's 'Grand Horizons'

    Jane Alexander and James Cromwell will head up the Broadway cast of Bess Wohl’s “Grand Horizons.” The two Oscar nominees will star as Bill and Nancy, a couple whose five-decade-long relationship unravels when they move to a retirement community. After Nancy decides she wants a divorce, her family life is sent into disarray. The show [...]

  • Chasing Rainbows review

    New Jersey Theater Review: Judy Garland Bio 'Chasing Rainbows'

    Judy Garland’s voice was unparalleled and rich, an emotive contralto that lasted long into her later years with a loud and winning showiness to go with its melodramatic nuances. But that voice concealed a troubled backstory, as the woman born Frances Ethel Gumm toted the baggage of a closeted gay father, an ugly duckling’s insecurity [...]

  • Broadway Review: David Byrne's 'American Utopia'

    Broadway Review: David Byrne's 'American Utopia'

    One constant of David Byrne’s long and prolific career is his ability to grow a seemingly simple idea into something brilliant, whether it’s the melody of “Road to Nowhere” or the concept of the “Stop Making Sense” tour some 36 years ago, where the premise of bringing out nine musicians, one at a time per [...]

  • The Sound Inside review

    Broadway Review: 'The Sound Inside' Starring Mary-Louise Parker

    Mary-Louise Parker will take your breath away with her deeply felt and sensitively drawn portrait of a tenured Yale professor who treasures great literature, but has made no room in her life for someone to share that love with. The other thesp in this two-hander is Will Hochman, endearing in the supportive role of a [...]

  • Little Shop of Horrors review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Little Shop of Horrors'

    With its strains of kitschy doo-wop and its sci-fi B-movie inspirations, the quaint 1982 musical “Little Shop of Horrors” hardly seems a thing of modern-day revivalism, even despite its touches of S&M. Yet this year alone, not only is there an Off Broadway production of the blackly comic “Little Shop” featuring Jonathan Groff of Netflix’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content