WINDY CITY TIMES
||Flashdance: The Musical
by Mary Shen Barnidge
This article shared 4498 times since Wed Aug 14, 2013
Playwright: book by Tom Hedley and Robert Cary, music by Robbie Roth, lyrics by Robert Cary and Robbie Roth. At: Broadway in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace, 151 W. Randolph St. Tickets: 800-775-2000; www.broadwayinchicago.com; $18-$85 . Runs through: Aug. 18
Hamlet's most physically strenuous scene comes right at the end, when the melancholy Dane must execute a lengthy sword-fight, followed by more strong-arm actionall after several hours of likewise athletic activity. The role of Alex Owens in this screen-to-stage adaptation requires Jillian Mueller to act, sing and dance for over two hours, and then finish up with a terpsichorean solo turn accomplished in its cinematic prototype by four stunt doubles and a bevy of special effects. Who can blame the audience for starting their applause barely 10 minutes into the show, during a grueling four measures of triple-time running-in-place?
Applause is also due co-adapters Tom Hedley and Robert Cary for improving on the former's 1983 fairy tale of an 18-year-old blue-collar Cinderella who toils as a welder during the day and go-go dances at night, catching the eye of her industrial workplace's owner, whose privileged connections facilitate her entry to a prestigious ballet school. In 2013, however, not only is Alex Owens past her teens, but her bossnow identified as the steel-mill founder's grandsonis well under 30, rendering their romantic attachment more plausible. The spunky lady also rebuffs her smitten employer's initial attentions with sufficient conviction to dispel any suspicions as to her intentions.
Most noticeable, though, is the story no longer being just about them, its social context having been expanded to include the denizens of Alex's worldfactory hard-hats, proprietors and employees of the skin trade (both wholesome and sleazy), the street dancers Alex mimics and the ballerinas she envies. We hear about their economic troubles, their reasons for doing what they do, their hopes for a better life and their epiphanies regarding what constitutes that life. Nostalgic playgoers may lament the complexity of the dramatic universe, but this isn't the '80s any moretaking your passion and making it happen doesn't just mean taking off your bra to impress a rich boyfriend.
Robbie Roth's syrupy Broadway-generic melodies can't match the adrenaline-pumping urgency of the score's original MTV rockers (except for "My Turn," whose tempo mirrors that of "Maniac"), but Sergio Trujillo's direction and choreography for this dazzling de facto pre-New York try-out delivers enough oomph to proclaim its budget for Irn-bru in the dressing rooms money well spent.
This article shared 4498 times since Wed Aug 14, 2013
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