When the dancing stops, ‘Flashdance’ fizzles
BOSTON — It’s back to the 80s at the Citi Emerson Colonial Theater.
The script for the hit 1983 movie “Flashdance”was originally targeted for the stage before the rights were sold and the script became a $150 million blockbuster film for Paramount Pictures and made a star out of Jennifer Beals.
The story returned to its theatrical roots with the debut of “Flashdance: The Musical” in 2008. Now the stage version is on a national tour that has stopped at the Colonial with a Broadway run in sight.
And while “Flashdance: The Musical” boasts a corps of athletic, well-sculpted hoofers, some sizzling choreography and flashy production values, it doesn’t make up for the holes in the book and the score that could make “Flashdance” a flash in the pan if it does hit Broadway.
“Flashdance: The Musical” is not your typical boy-meets-girl story — or your typical musical, for that matter.
Alex Owens (Sydney Morton) is a petite bundle of energy, an 18-year-old apprentice welder by day in a Pittsburgh steel mill, and an aspiring dancer by night at Harry’s Bar, owned by nice guy Harry (Steve Greenstein).
Harry’s girls rely on skill, not skin, but Harry is struggling to stay in business from the tawdry competition offered by the bar run by C.C. (Christian Whalen) down the street.
Alex would like to enroll in ballet school and dreams of auditioning for Shipley Academy, but lacks the confidence to audition or the money to attend.
To boot, Alex and the other workers in the steel mill operated by the Hurley family are nervous that the boss’s handsome grandson Nick (Corey Mach) has been deposited into their midst to identify who should be laid off.
Choreographer/director Sergio Trujillo (“Jersey Boys,” “Memphis”) has crafted some exhilarating dance numbers, to the point where you could pull a muscle just watching them. Keep your eye on a dancer named Ryan Carlson — — he ups the ante in every number he’s in — but while the energy level stays up, the numbers take on a certain sameness after a while.
And when the dancing stops, things really slow down, although there are some pleasant performances to be sure, particularly by Allison Ewing, Ginna Claire Watson, and Dequina Moore as Alex’s dancer friends, and Madeleine Doherty as her aged mentor.
The Grammy Award-winning soundtrack from the film produced two No. 1 singles in 1983, “Flashdance” (“What a Feeling”) and “Maniac,” and there are five songs in all that have carried over from the movie to the stage.
The story by Tom Hedley and Robert Cary and the new songs in the score by Robbie Roth and Robert Cary are pretty much a hat to hang the dance numbers on.
After you get past the hits from the movie, the score flames out, and the throbbing techno-pop loses steam, with the ballads simply slowing the tempo a bit.
The multi-media aspects of the show — the projections that recall MTV and the music videos of the 1980s, the strobe lights, etc — by lighting designer Howell Binkley are all very well, but they can’t keep us emotionally engaged in the story.
So even as Alex has her moment of truth as a dancer auditioning for Shipley, we keep longing for a reprise of “Flashdance” or one of the snappier dance numbers from the first act. And, in this case, that’s not a good thing.
The national touring production of “Flashdance: The Musical.” Music by Robbie Roth, lyrics by Roth and Robert Cary, with songs from the 1983 Paramount Pictures film. Book by Tom Hedley and Cary. Directed and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo. Set design by Klara Zieglerova. Costumes design by Paul Tazewell, Lighting by Howell Binkley. At the Citi Emerson Colonial Theatre through March 23.www.broadwayinboston.com