Think back to the famous 1983 movie "Flashdance" and answer the question, "What was it about?"
You will probably respond that itâ€™s about a young girl named Alex, a steelworker who dances in an almost strip club and wants to get into an elite-level ballet school.
But thatâ€™s not the right answer if someone asks you about the stage musical version of "Flashdance" that opened Tuesday night at the Marcus Center and runs through Sunday.
This variation of "Flashdance" is about Alex, Alex and Nick, Nick and his grandfather, Nick and Andy, Jimmy, Jimmy and Harry, Jimmy and Gloria, Gloria, Harry and C. C., Gloria and C. C. and ... well, you get the point.
And thatâ€™s the problem with the production. There are so many stories dealing with a multitude of characters that the guts of the story â€“ Alex's drive for something better â€“ gets lost in the mess of more stories that come so fast it made my head spin.
Along the way, the people responsible for taking a good movie and turning it into musical theater decided somewhere that every storyline needed at least one song, maybe two. Over and over, the audience gets songs about trying hard, breaking up, getting together, how weâ€™re sorry, how weâ€™re not sorry, etc.
Sydney Morton, the young woman who plays Alex, has a powerhouse of a voice and is as cute as a button. She carries this production on her tiny shoulders, but even she seems weighed down at the end from her burden.
Everything else surrounding Morton, however, was startlingly average. Average singing. Average dancing. Average everything.
This is called musical theater. Thatâ€™s two parts. One is musical. The other is theater, the telling of a story, and theÂ production couldnâ€™t seem to decide which story itâ€™s going to tell, so it just decided to tell every single possible one.
When I think back to the movie, which grossed over $150 million worldwide, several things come to mind.Â One is the drama of a girl trying to do something only she thinks she might be able to do. Another is the brooding Michael Nouri who played Nick, her love interest. Nick is supposed to be dark, slightly dangerous and hold a mysterious attraction for Alex.
The Nick in this production â€“ Corey Mach â€“ resembled nothing more than a cub scout who sneaked out of a pack meeting and ended up Downtown. Rather than possessing an attractive and vaguely sinister allure, I expected this Nick to try and sell me a box of cookies. Itâ€™s hard to see what Alex ever saw in this guy.
The movie was also sexy. Jennifer Beals was sexy. Nouri was sexy. The girls who danced in the bar were sexy. There was no sexy in this production. It was like a meeting of soccer moms at the local coffee shop.
And finally, the final scene in the movie, where Alex kills it during her audition for the ballet school, screams with passion, drama and incredible excitement. Here, that final scene just lays there on the stage without anybody getting on their feet to shout, "You go girl!"
There are lots of people who are going to see this in Milwaukee, and my guess is that most of them are going to love it.Â But at two and a half hours, somebody somewhere needed to take an axe to this thing and pare it down to one really great story.
"Flashdance" features 16 new songs written for the stage version of the story. Almost all of them are message songs about trying harder, keeping your eye on the ball and not being discouraged by the fates.
I kind of wish the brains behind the show had listened to those songs and decided that they should have just one ball to keep an eye on. Instead, this show plays like the Powerball balls bouncing around around in their plastic cage.Â
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Dave Begel
Published Oct. 13, 2015
Soccer is called "the beautiful game" by the millions of fans who follow it like a religion, both in America and around the world.I've never understood the phrase until Saturday night when a remarkable confluence of events gave me a kind of clarity about soccer I never had before.
Published Oct. 10, 2015
Next weekend the respected Florentine Opera opens "Madama Butterfly," the last of Puccini's trio of great works, for a two performance run Oct. 16 and 18 in Uihlein Hall at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.
Published Oct. 8, 2015
Back when I was a millennial, well before the millennium, dining out was not nearly the adventure it is now. There are so many more options now, so much food that is healthier, such a variety of cost points and so many different ethnic offerings that it sometimes makes it difficult to consider where you want to eat. But half a century ago, when I was but a callow youth, there were places where I was part of the devoted following. Here are nine of those places.
Published Oct. 7, 2015
This cozy spot offers a plethora of Indian dishes - from mild curry to red-hot pepper, curry and ginger flavored items.
Published Oct. 7, 2015
Thud! As hard as it may be to believe, that is the exact sound delivered by the stage musical version of "Dirty Dancing" that opened Tuesday night at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. If there was ever a stage adaptation of a movie that ought to just fly off the stage, this one sat there like a hopeless drunk trying to tap dance on a giant exercise ball.
Published Oct. 6, 2015
Recently, the Milwaukee Bucks extended the contract of General Manager John Hammond. The agreement keeps Hammond in his position with the Bucks through the 2016-17 season. I was wrong on this one. In July I had written that the Bucks were on the verge of appointing Coach Jason Kidd to be the head of basketball operations and either parting ways with Hammond or finding another position for him in the organization.
Published Oct. 4, 2015
Sometimes it takes a little tap on your noggin to get the point across and sometimes it takes a blow from a sledge hammer. The sledge hammer gets a total workout in "Back of the Throat," the over-the-top horror show running at Next Act's Third Ward theater.
Published Oct. 4, 2015
One of the worst things that can happen to anybody walking into a theater is to know all about the twists and turns and surprises that are in store. If you know, then it's not a surprise. Following my intense belief in not having the shout "spoiler alert" every time I see a play, I fully intend to say almost nothing about what happens in "Any Given Monday," an hilarious if slightly off-kilter comedy that opened over the weekend at In Tandem's Tenth Street Theatre.
Published Oct. 3, 2015
If at some point in your life you decide that you want to write your autobiography there are a couple of very important items to consider. One is that you can write. The other is that your life better have something interesting about it. Both of the requirements are met, gloriously, in "The Lion," the one man show that opened Friday night at the Stiemke Studio of the Milwaukee Rep.
Published Oct. 1, 2015
Over the last several months Dave Begel has seen a steady parade of fear mongers show up and convince a Common Council committee to turn down applications for a strip club in Downtown Milwaukee.