Flashdance plot uninspired, finds strength in songs

Photo Courtesy of Flash Dance – The Musical

Flashdance – the Musicalis “What a Feeling!” Yet, the audience did not “feel” it. With a title containing both the words flash and dance, this performance should have been a flashy spectacle with impressive dancing. While there is a lot of flash, the dancing and various other aspects beg improvement

Flashdance, based off the 1983 musical film of the same name, follows the story of Alexandra Owens in the city of Pittsburgh as a hardworking welder by day, moonlighting as a “flashdancer” at night, with secret dreams of attending the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy. She finally pursues her dream after some encouragement from her best friend Gloria. The same day she decides to  go for her dream, Alex is pursued and enamored by her new attractive boss Nick Hurley, who she originally spurned because of his their work relationship and his social standing.

The plot and all the characters are both predictable and stereotypical.

The plot and characters are all predictable and stereotypical. Alexandra is an very independent women who works hard and deserves her chance, but just she does not have confidence in herself. Nick is a rich boy who wants to rebel against his family to be morally right, but occasionally to help his rich-boy tendencies. Alex and Gloria’s two fellow flashdancers are a sassy African-American women and a cynical older dancer who has seen it all. The rest of the characters fall into their respective stereotypes in society, which is slightly forgivable because of the time period the plot was originally scripted toward. But ultimately the outcome of each character’s situation is too obvious to encourage audience enjoyment.

However, the uninspired plot is saved by the hilarious dialogue and sharp, witty remarks of the characters. The sense of nostalgia for the music, even for a generation that did not watch or live through the era that the original film was first released in, is strong. This is supported by the outstanding voices of Emily Padgett (Alex) and Matt Hydzik (Nick). However, the latter needs some time to warm his voice up before it reaches its full potential. The majority of the rest of the cast also has outstanding singing voices, particularly Kelly Felthous and Dequinna Moore, with the exception of David R. Gordon, whose voice is not bad, but seems to crack a lot and was overpowered by the orchestra, although this may have been a directing choice to match his character.

In spite of the wonderful singing, the dancing is not the best. There are several members of the ensemble who are fantastic dancers, but their skills at times overshadow some of the main cast who are not as skilled, notably during Kiki’s solo dance. Many of the dancers are supposedly part of an esteemed dance academy, but several of them literally stumble during the more classical and technical dance styles. The dancers never seem to synchronized, which is not necessary for modern and interpretive dance styles, but it is definitely needed for the more traditional dance forms seen in this show.

On a more positive note, some things that impressed were the exceptionally smooth transitions between scenes, the lighting and the clever use of props. The set is cleverly designed to be easily shifted to make the transitions clean and  almost immediate. This is complimented by the lightning and bright LED screens that clearly draw the audience’s eyes where they need to be, on each of the characters even when their dancing or voice is unable to live up to the attention. The props also help enhance several of the scenes, like when the flashdancers line up to each of the nude bodies on the folding screens to reference the topic they were discussing in their song.

Flashdance at the Fox Theater is a very entertaining musical that is exciting to watch, but it is in need of some polishing. Regardless, it will fill any void Generation Y students have from missing the loud, bright and flashy times of the 1980s.