Regional Reviews: Seattle
Flashdance The Musical Stumbles into the Paramount
The plot skeleton of the original film remains in the paper-thin book by Tom Hedley and Robert Cary, but with lots of padding and revisions. Pittsburgh steel mill worker Alex Owens (Emily Padgett) performs at Harry's dance club nightly, but aspires to train for the ballet at the prestigious but snooty Shipley Dance Academy. When Nick Hurley (Matthew Hydzik), the steel mill heir, takes a shine to her, Alex eventually gives into a relationship, but this sours when, in the name of love, he puts money in the hands of a Shipley admissions rep to make sure Alex gets in. This action, coupled with lay-off strife affecting Alex's mill co-workers, leads her to leave the mill and call off the audition. But following the loss of her close dance mentor Hannah (Jo Ann Cunningham), she reschedules and gives Shipley the dance audition of her life (cue title song). Her three dancer cronies Kiki (DeQuina Moore), Gloria (Kelly Felthous) and Tess (Rachelle Rak), who seem to have wandered in from Sweet Charity's dance hall, pipe in with so-called comic relief and Gloria is key in a useless sub-plot involving her misbegotten shot at fame at a nearby strip bar, and her own troubled romance with Harry's sad-sack nephew Jimmy (David R. Gordon).
It is impossible to pick even one musically distinctive tune from the nondescript score by composer Robbie Roth with banal lyrics by Roth and Robert Cary, but at least Trujillo, who supplied super steps for Jersey Boys, also currently in town, gives his talented ensemble some diverting choreography here and there, along with numbers which seem to exist for no purpose at all, such as "Manhunt."
Emily Padgett as Alex is a triple threat talent in search of a great musical to lend it to, and Matthew Hydzik (Nick) has a glorious voice and charisma to spare. Moore, Felthous and Rak work hard for their money as Alex's buddies, with Rak a particular stand-out. David R. Gordon is endearing even delivering mirthless laugh lines as Jimmy, while Cunningham comes closest of anyone onstage with stealing the show in her solo turn "Hannah's Answer."
Scenic designer Klara Zieglerova and lighting designer Howell Binkley do work similar to but not up to the same standards as their designs for Jersey Boys, and Peter Nigrini's projection design left me underwhelmed, though Paul Tazewell's costumes scored in creating an '80s feeling. But my feeling about Flashdance The Musical and any chance for a stop on Broadway (it is being billed as a "Broadway Tour")? I won't be surprised if it flashes and fades to black if it ever gets to the Great White Way.
Flashdance The Musical runs through April 21, 2013, at The Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine Street in downtown Seattle. For more information go to www.stgpresents.org. For more information on the tour, visit www.flashdancethemusical.com/.
- David Edward Hughes