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Arts & Music

Review: ‘Flashdance’ musical channels ‘80s original at Straz

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Published:   |   Updated: March 4, 2013 at 04:24 PM

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Whenever there’s a musical based on a movie, inevitably you will find yourself comparing the two.

“Flashdance - The Musical,” opened its six day run at The Straz Center Tuesday night to a packed house.

Based on the popular 1983 movie, the musical incorporates much of the look and feel of the movie that capitalized on the popularity of music videos and the MTV cable network.

Like the movie, the musical tells the story of Alex Owens who works as a steel welder by day and an exotic dancer by night who dreams of getting into a prestigious dance school and the obstacles she faces along the way.

The musical doesn’t stay true to the movie script, but that’s ok, because it works.

Klara Zieglerova has created an elaborate set designed to portray a multitude of sites including a steel mill and a dance studio with glimpses of the Pittsburgh skyline.

The musical features all the hit songs from the original film, including “Flashdance - What a Feeling,” “Gloria,” “I Love Rock & Roll,” “Manhunt,” and “Maniac,” as well as 16 new songs by Robert Cary and Robbie Roth, energetic choreography by Sergio Trujillo and a supporting cast of talented dancers keep the audience entertained throughout the two and a half hour performance.

Alex is played convincingly by Emily Padgett, a petite, energetic woman with big curly hair who channels Jennifer Beals (the actress who played Alex in the movie). Padgett can act, dance and has a strong set of lungs. And nothing can rattle this performer, as we witnessed during one scene where she experiences a wardrobe malfunction and danced on in bra and panty without skipping a beat.

Alex falls for Nick Hurley (Matthew Hydzik), heir to the steel mill where Alex works.

Hydzik is much younger than Michael Nouri, who played the role in the movie – that’s a good thing. And Hydzik can certainly hold his own in the singing department.

Padgett and Hydzik look good, have great chemistry and their voices mesh well, particularly on ballads like “Here and Now,” and “Hang On.”

The lithe and leggy Rachelle Rak, is great as Alex’s older exotic colleague Tess and DeQuina Moore is funny and savvy as her pal Kiki. And Ryan Carlson deserves kudos for his excellent break dancing, as does the entire dance ensemble which tackles everything from ballet and hip-hop, to jazz, and pole dancing with ease and grace.

In the finale, Alex auditions for the dance school. The audience waits with baited breath for Alex to explode on stage, but it never happens. We’re supposed to believe Alex gets into the school because she is an extraordinary dancer, but the dance seems suppressed and the audience is left wanting more.

And the fact that it’s not Irene Cara’s voice singing “What a Feeling” is a bit disappointing.

Still, “Flashdance The Musical,” will make you want to slip on a pair of leg warmers and hit the dance floor.

“Flashdance the Musical” runs through Feb. 24 at The Straz. Tickets are $44.50 to $89.50 and available at www.strazcenter.org, (813) 229-7827 and The Straz Center Box Office at 1010 N. MacInnes Place.

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