BWW Reviews: FLASHDANCE Goes Maniac
Before "So You Think You Can Dance" and the "Step Up" films, there was "Flashdance," the 80s cult classic that brought us songs like "Maniac" and "I Love Rock N Roll." Such songs are, for the most part, the life and soul of the film's fairly new musical counterpart, playing at Broadway Sacramento through this Sunday.
MTV and loud beats greet the audience before the show. The keyboard-driven electronic music energizes the air as a cast of bright colors causes us to wonder, "Why don't people dress like that any more?" And then we're led through a fun, slightly cleaned-up version of the original story about an artistic strip dancer named Alex who dreams of becoming a professional dancer and attending Shipley Dance Academy. Boyfriend Nick encourages her while attempting to find new ways for his family's business to succeed.
The hit songs from the movie mostly sung in the background help keep the show moving, along with some killer dancing from an underused and under-amplified ensemble. Unfortunately, the 80s-inspired score tends to blend without any new memorable tune, too much song and too little dialogue. Even fan-favorite "I Love Rock N Roll" drags somewhat. But other original songs like "Maniac" and "Manhunt" add real energy and excitement to the production, especially as sung by the powerhouse voices of Dequina Moore, Alison Ewing and Ginna Claire Mason.
The leads of "Flashdance" certainly know how to work the stage. Corey Mach as Nick, David R Gordon as Gloria's "comedic" boyfriend and Christian Whelan as sleazy nightclub competitor C.C. head the male ensemble with strong vocals and convincing performances. Madeline Doherty makes light of the material she is given as Alex's ornery, endearing and humorous dance mentor, Hannah. And Jillian Mueller as Alex commands the stage with a strong and confident presence touched by self-doubt and a difficult past. Her turn in the watery first act finale ends too soon, but with an immediate and lasting impression.
Paul Tazewell's costume design harkens back to the film's looks, while incredible set, lighting and projection designs combine for a complete experience.