The Fox Theatre, Atlanta
February 5, 2013
By Deborah Searle.
After a not so successful season in London in 2010, Flashdance the musical has been reworked and now has a second chance to wow audiences in a US tour before hitting Broadway later in the year.
A stage version of the 80s cult classic movie, Flashdance tells the story of “Alex”, a steel worker by day and club dancer by night who dreams of being a trained, professional dancer. With a story all about dance, it’s no wonder there are many dance scenes, which was great for this dance lover.
The slogan for the musical is “One girl, one dream, one chance”, but the musical is really about a group of characters and their dreams and aspirations, and it took a huge team to create and successfully get this musical back to the stage. A colorful 80s explosion, Flashdance effectively took us back to the era of leg warmers, MTV music videos, and musical hits like “Maniac” with fitting choreography, sets and costumes.
With everything from ballet, jazz and hip-hop, to even break dance and pole, Flashdance features a wonderfully talented ensemble of versatile dancers. The strength of the dance component was the large ensemble numbers where the dancers were all very neat and committed to every step, oozing 80s pizazz. Sometimes the 80s feel seemed a little forced, but the dancers gave a lot of energy and life to the steps. Many of the dancers probably don’t even remember the 80s! The ballet scenes were also a strong point of the production.
Some of the solo jazz dance numbers by the lead cast left me a little disappointed, however, with bent legs in an aerial cartwheel, a lack of turnout and extension when needed, and hops in pirouette. That said, the lead performers, led by Emily Padgett as ‘Alex’, were all very talented actors and singers. Emily Padgett has a stunning voice and was a joy to listen to. She was very believable as the young, sassy ‘Alex’.
A few scenes were dissatisfying. The iconic, sexy scene where Alex sits on a chair and pulls a chain to shower herself with water, felt rushed and like it was just squashed into the program right before intermission. I was disappointed that this very memorable scene didn’t have more build up or resonance. Sadly, the pivotal final audition scene where Alex dances a jazz number for a panel of judges was poorly staged. The judges were on the side of the stage and Alex danced facing them, instead of facing us in the audience. This made it harder for us to feel engaged by her performance and left the dance number feeling a little flat.
The music is infectious and a feast of 80s classics like “Maniac”, “Manhunt”, “I Like Rock and Roll” and the movie title song “Flashdance- What a Feeling”, and the show is really quite fun and entertaining. Unfortunately though, I wasn’t blown away. I heard mixed reviews from the audience, but I was happy to hear people saying “I want to go dancing now”, as they left the theater. If Flashdance can inspire people to dance, then it’s definitely achieved something that we dancers can’t complain about.
Photo: Emily Padgett as Alex in Flashdance The Musical. Photo by Kyle Froman.