Movies continue to be a rich source of material for stage musicals. Currently on stage at PlayhouseSquare is the touring production of “Flashdance – The Musical.” It is based on the 1983 movie that spoke to young people and reflected the music of the era. It is the story of Alex, a welder in Pittsburgh who dances in a bar at night, but aspires to train in classical ballet at a prestigious academy.
With its electronic post-disco score, the movie introduced “Maniac” to the world. Now, 30 years later, the story is brought to the stage with no less than 16 new songs in the style of the movie. In “Flashdance – The Musical,” Sydney Morton is a petite but feisty Alex, convincing as a welder, and with dance talent that is instantly apparent. She develops a romance of sorts with Nick Hurley, grandson of the steel mill founder, in industrial Pittsburgh. Corey Mach as Nick is appropriately nerdy, and awkwardly goofy in his romantic efforts with an employee.
The best element of this show is the energized collection of ensemble dance numbers in the first act. A mixture of pop styles, the dance is choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, who is at the top of his game, and the top of the list of most desired dance creators. The energy of the show is high at the start, with sparks literally flying at the steel mill where life is good and everyone can dance. Watch for fast and intricate breakdancing moves that individuals bust out with.
Much of the show takes place in Harry’s Bar. Harry is the “nice” bar owner and C.C. is the “not nice” owner of a rival bar that lures girls to his place. There are a lot of numbers at the bar, with dancers Tess and Kiki alternating. Those roles will be played this week by Kyli Rai and Kyra DeCosta. The new music added to the show takes the place of dialogue, and the result is almost a rock opera with a few lines of dialogue stringing together the songs. To my ears, the new songs are not much different from each other, and the themes even seem to be undifferentiated. Every character, it seems, has a song about “who am I and what should I be doing.”
If nothing else, “Flashdance – The Musical” is fast-moving. Scenic panels roll across the stage almost constantly, and projections establish time and place. Still, the running time of the show, at almost three hours, seems long.
“Flashdance – The Musical” is in its second week at the Palace through Sunday. It is a strong choice for the Broadway series, and the audience on the opening night was enthusiastic and vocal in its exuberance.