BWW Reviews: FLASHDANCE Brings Back the Excess of the 1980s

BWW Reviews: FLASHDANCE Brings Back the Excess of the 1980sRemember 1980s pop culture? Loud, garish and a bit tawdry?

"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.

Weaknesses? The script by Tom Hedley and Robert Cary offers a few laughs but it skims along the surface of its characters' lives. We rarely care very deeply for anyone.

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.

Several others offer superb contributions, including Ginna Claire Mason, David R. Gordon, Madeleine Doherty, Kyra Da Costa, Kyli Rae, Steve Greenstein and Christian Whelan.

This high-gloss "Flashdance" continues through Sunday. For tickets, call 864-467-3000.

Follow Paul Hyde on Twitter: @PaulHyde7.

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Paul Hyde Paul Hyde, a longtime journalist, currently serves as the Arts Writer with The Greenville (S.C.) News and Southeast Editor of the website Classical Voice North America. Paul was an editorial writer/columnist with The Greenville News for nine years. He has held many other positions in journalism, including reporter, photographer, editor of a small-town newspaper, editor of a monthly arts journal, and editorial page editor of The Anderson Independent-Mail. His articles and commentaries have appeared in a variety of newspapers, including USA Today, the Houston Chronicle, Houston Post and Dallas Morning News. A native of Houston, Paul has enjoyed a lively second career as a singer, actor, conductor and stage director.


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