Thanks to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, last night I was able to see the world-premiere of Flashdance, that 1983 movie directed by Adrian Lyne. It takes place in Pittsburgh and is about welder/dancer Alex Owens and her struggles to became a For Real Respectable TuTu Wearing Dancer. Let’s go over the good, the bad, and the ugly of the show:
Emily Padgett as Alex Owens. She was a fierce, energetic and powerful dancer with vocals to match. She looked great in the iconic dance gear (the leg warmers and black belly shirt and off the shoulder gray sweatshirt). She was totally convincing as a girl too scrappy and determined to ever play it safe. The lights when down, way down, at the beginning of the show and then suddenly, a burst of light. From her welding machine. Now that was a very cool entrance. And yes, she absolutely uh, pulled off the bra scene. It was one of the funniest moments of the night – in no small part to Matthew Hydzik’s (Nick) reaction.
Kelly Felthous as Gloria, Dequina Moore as Kiki, Rachelle Rak as Tess and Jo Ann Cunningham as Hannah. Let’s face it, Alex Owens is the Maniac in this show, but her supporting female cast nearly upstaged her! Plus, with the most laughs of the night, it was a joy when they came on stage.
Guest Appearance by Jacob Karr of So You Think You Can Dance Fame. It was just neat to see him.
The dancing. The dancing was insane in this production. While you would most certainly expect really incredible dancing, Jim Abbott’s dance arrangements were especially entertaining.
I was um, underhwhelmed, let’s say, by the original music written by Robbie Roth with lyrics by Robert Cary. I can’t pinpoint anything in particular – they weren’t terrible, they weren’t sung horribly, some where quite catchy – except to say that I just didn’t feel like they really added to the emotional depth of the story or drove the narrative forward. There were times when I thought, nice song by why? But then there were several gems, such as Hannah’s Answer and Enough that I really enjoyed.
And, surprisingly (considering the acoustics in Heinz Hall) there were times I had a really hard time understanding the lyrics during a few songs.
The Lighting. Not all the time, but whoa, when Alex comes out during Maniac (the number when she pulls the chain and the water splashes down on her) there is this blinding, headache-inducing red light that is on for the entirety of her dance that shines right out into the audience. Not only does it hurt (see “blinding, headache-inducing), but if there was supposed to have been some special effect there or something, I didn’t get it. I mean, it’ s not like in Jersey Boys when the “stadium” lights come out. This red light was so harsh I couldn’t even watch Alex dance – which was a shame because that dance is so iconic. It would have been nice to actually see it.
All in all, the show was an enjoyable 2.5 hours and the entire cast and crew did the show, and it’s legacy, justice. Fans of the movie will recognize a billion little easter eggs and fans of musicals in general will appreciate this new bit of energy on stage. Much respect to all the dancers on stage who really sweated it out!
For ticket info, click here.