BWW Reviews: Grab your Legwarmers, FLASHDANCE Is a Great 80's Throwback
Jennifer Beals' shoulder-baring "Maniac" is as 80's iconic as boom boxes, MTV, and Madonna, and much to the delight of a nearly full house at the Palace Theater last night, "Flashdance: The Musical" had all of the above, with legwarmers, spiral permed hair, and some pretty impressive talent to boot.
As was with the movie, the plot of Flashdance is plagued with so many sub-storylines that it's central character, Alex Owens (played by Jillian Mueller), a steel working girl by day and a club dancer with aspirations for the big league ballet academy at times, get lost.
However, Mueller is a powerful triple-threat who breezes through moonwalking street dance numbers, electric stage act dances (including the famous water bucket scene), and manages to belt out tunes including the gorgeous, "Let Go" like she's taking a casual Sunday stroll. In a role whose movie counterpart required both a body double and a singer, as well as Beals herself, Mueller's live-stage feat is no small one. She's joined by Corey Mach as her fledgling boss turned love interest, Nick Hurley, who aside from playing the rich pretty boy with refreshingly human tenderness, has really superb chemistry with Mueller, and creates beautiful duets such as "Here and Now", and carries his own weight on "Enough" nicely.
The musical version (Book by Tom Hedley and Robert Cary with Music by Robbie Roth) is chock-full of 16 new songs, but maintains of course, "What a Feeling", "I Love Rock 'N' Roll", and "Maniac". An adaptation of Laura Branigan's "Gloria", which paints Alex's BFF in Madonna's "Material Girl" get-up, plays beautifully with both Paul Tazewell's gorgeous costume recreation, and Ginna Claire Mason's naïve blond-ambition. Gloria's boyfriend, Jimmy (David R. Gordon) is a bit wishy-washy, but once Gordon gets a chance to sing, all is well.
The ensemble dancers in this production are worth the ticket price in and of itself, and thoroughly enjoyable whether breakdancing, at the ballet academy, or in the club scenes, with gorgeous precision, tons of energy, and they are just plain fun to watch. Another hard-to-miss asset is Dequina Moore, who plays Alex's club dancer friend, Kiki with prowess that would rival Tina Turner in dance and vocals. She's balanced by an understated Alison Ewing as Tess, who is portrayed with the right mix of brass and heart. Rounding out the featured cast are Jo Ann Cunningham as Alex's motherly dance mentor, Hannah, Matthew Henerson, as nightclub owner with heart, Harry, and Christian Whelan, who plays "bad guy" CC to type. All deliver nicely polished supporting performances.
The show is fun, a nostalgic treasure-trove for 80's fans, and has just enough heart to be endearing without becoming sappy. Grab your legwarmers and come watch this cast tear up the stage in "Flashdance: The Musical" playing Wednesday, 12/18 and Thursday, 12/19 at 7:30pm, Friday, 12/20 at 8pm, Saturday, 12/21 at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday, 12/22 at 1pm and 6:30pm at The Palace Theater, 34 West Broad Street Columbus, OH 43215. For additional information and ticketing, please go to: http://columbus.broadway.com/shows/flashdance-baa/
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy Daniel