BWW Reviews: FLASHDANCE Brings Back the Excess of the 1980s
"Flashdance - The Musical" brings back all the tacky excess of that decade.
Is it entertaining? Oh yes, often that, too.
Let's be honest: "Flashdance" is the stage musical that critics love to hate. Tuesday's opening night audience at the Peace Center in Greenville, S.C., however, rewarded the national touring show with a standing ovation and clearly was having a whale of a good time.
True enough, this slick, sexed-up show - about a welder and bar dancer named Alex (Sydney Morton) who longs to attend a ballet school - has much to recommend it, including a great cast and a string of '80s megahits like "Maniac," "Gloria," "I Love Rock & Roll" and the Academy Award-winning "Flashdance ... What a Feeling."
The show really comes alive during those thundering numbers, which should be familiar to fans of the hugely popular 1983 film on which this musical is based.
Directed and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo ("Memphis," "Jersey Boys"), one of the finest talents on Broadway, the show also boasts some terrific ensemble dances, featuring an array of popular '80s styles, including disco, jazzercize and breakdancing. Trujillo brings tremendous energy to the proceedings.
Alex catches the eye of her boss, Nick (Corey Mach), who's torn between loyalty to his workers and to his family, who own the Pittsburgh steel mill. The economic turmoil of the Reagan era serves as the backdrop of the story, but "Flashdance" never explores the issue in the way that a musical like "Billy Elliot" scathingly examines Thatcherism.
Robbie Roth's newer songs - more than a dozen - fail to make a lasting impression. His hard-charging, bass-heavy rock score, with its relentless beats throbbing predictably on 2 and 4, begins to feel repetitive.
Like much of this show, Roth's songs are not awful. They're just not particularly memorable.
Robert Cary's lyrics, meanwhile, are OK but often get drowned out by the music.
The cast is outstanding. Morton, as the working-class heroine Alex, soars on her power ballads and dances with full-throttled abandon.
Mach, with an appealing tenor, is thoroughly likeable as Alex's love interest, Nick.
This high-gloss "Flashdance" continues through Sunday. For tickets, call 864-467-3000.
Follow Paul Hyde on Twitter: @PaulHyde7.