BWW Reviews: What a Feeling? FLASHDANCE in Toronto Lacks Finesse
Flashdance, the 1980's Paramount Pictures movie which led to the creation of the MTV format has been translated to the stage by a group which includes the original film creative team. The show tells the story of Alex Owens, a Pittsburgh steel mill welder by day and a bar dancer by night with dreams of one day becoming a professional performer.
As much as I wanted to cheer for Alex throughout the show, this production is fatally flawed and made it practically impossible for me to empathize with the protagonist. I should clarify, however, that fault lies not with the very talented, triple threat Sydney Morton who plays Alex - but the material she is working with.
The film version of Flashdance is ninety five minutes long, and by that point in this two and a half hour "spectacle-wannabe," nothing had really happened yet.
The fatal flaw with the book of the show is that nothing of interest or great consequence occurs between the point in the show where the protagonist meets her love interest, and when she has her "big audition." The creative team would be wise to note you can't fabricate a story line where there is none, no matter how many generic sounding 80's power ballads you throw at your audience.
Fans of the movie will be pleased to hear that all your favourites from the film have made it into the stage adaption, and are performed in creative ways that do fit the story line - which is why the film was so well received to begin with. All of the new material is extremely dull, and left me unable to distinguish most of the songs from each other. Late in the show, I heard what I assumed to be a reprise of a previously played song - but I couldn't really be completely sure to say the least.
The direction and choreography by Toronto native Sergio Trujillo doesn't help serve the piece either. Trujillo's work was last seen on stage in Toronto with the brilliant tango show Arrabal - which left us wanting more. His brilliance, however, doesn't translate well to the dance genre I shall dub, for the purposes of this review "80's repetitive." Trujillo does the best he can to direct a book which lacks any substance, but the dance numbers that he's put together for this production all recycle the same combination of MTV-generation choreography.
While repetitive and lacking any true substance, Flashdance will be a fun experience for those wishing to relive the awesome 80's for a short while. Connoisseurs of finer theatre may wish to skip this production, and opt for seeing David Suchet in The Last Confession before it closes in Toronto on June 1st. It's been long publicized that this show aims for Broadway - but the production needs some serious streamlining and trimming in order to be what it appears to be aiming for.
Paramount would be wise to put all their theatrical efforts in the long-rumored and semi-confirmed Mean Girls musical - a project being spearheaded by the film's original screenwriter, Tina Fey.
Follow Alan Henry on twitter @alanhenryTO.