A ‘Flash’ from the Past
The ’80s is one of those decades you just can’t forget about. The music, the fashion, the movies: all are very much alive in pop culture today. Considering how new musical theater has drawn heavily from older movies in the past few years (i.e. “Billy Elliot”), I was not surprised to hear that the latest show coming to Segerstrom Center of the Arts in Costa Mesa was “Flashdance,” based off the 1983 movie of the same name.
Although I am not personally a huge ’80s fan, the show itself was passable, and there was something that brought back memories for the previous generation.
“Flashdance” takes place in Pittsburgh, focusing on a young girl named Alex who supports herself working in a steel factory by day and dancing at a bar at night. Her dream is to join a ballet company, but she has had no formal training in dance. Her friends and boyfriend encourage her, yet she continually holds herself back.
The character of Alex Owens, played by Jillian Mueller, is a critical role that can either make or break the entire show. Mueller was a good choice for the part: pretty, ’80s hair, strong vibrato and energetic, but there was nothing that set her apart as a leading lady. Whether this was the fault of the limited script or the character development is what I am unsure of. She did keep the pace of the show quite nicely, and I had no complaints about her performance.
The supporting cast complimented the show quite nicely. With Kelly Felthous as the sweet stereotypical blonde Gloria, Matthew Hydzik as the dashing rich heir Nick Hurley and Dequina Moore as sassy, soulful Kiki, the cast was an enjoyable bunch that highlighted their talents magnificently. Everyone’s singing and movement was on point, and overall I was pleased with the national tour’s casting.
The sets were also a wonderful addition to the ’80s feel, with over-the-top graphics and movable panels that were visually interesting, as well as decade-appropriate.
The main issue I have with “Flashdance” is the show itself. First of all, its existence bothers me a bit (does Broadway really need another movie-turned-musical?), but besides that, the script and musical numbers were utterly and completely forgettable. I did not walk out of the theater singing any original tunes, but only mumbling the “Maniac” song from the movie that the musical played a few times in the corresponding scenes.
Considering all that, “Flashdance” is not a show I could tear apart for content because it does not attempt to be a piece of intellectual theater or noteworthy music. It simply exists to entertain. Its intention of a feel-good musical, with comedy, drama, music and dance, was certainly fulfilled, and people who knew Alex Owen’s story were certainly satisfied.
For younger audiences, though, who have never heard of “Flashdance,” there might be less enthusiasm and more critique. It just depends on how much the viewer loves that ’80s perm.
Only recommended if you’re already a fan of “Flashdance” or if you don’t mind crazy ’80s eccentricities.