Think back to the famous 1983 movie "Flashdance" and answer the question, "What was it about?"
You will probably respond that it’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 that’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 that’s the problem with the production. There are so many stories dealing with a multitude of characters that the guts of the story – Alex's drive for something better – 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 we’re sorry, how we’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. That’s two parts. One is musical. The other is theater, the telling of a story, and the production couldn’t seem to decide which story it’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. 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 – Corey Mach – 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. It’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. 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.
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. 30, 2014
What could possibly deliver more fun than a night of cool food, great wine selected just for you and an evening of wonderful theater? That's the idea behind the Saturday Date Night package created by David Cecsarini's Next Act Theatre.
Published Oct. 30, 2014
This is my last column before the election next Tuesday and so, I have debated and thought and listened to friend and foe alike and I have finally reached a decision. I have weighed and examined the issues and the personalities and the promises and the past records and I'm done. Here are the top 14 reasons to vote for Mary Burke.
Published Oct. 28, 2014
You want to stage an opera, but you have this commitment to letting new voices and new ideas be heard and seen - even if it means you sometimes have to climb out on that limb while the only thing you hold in your hand is a baby monkey clad in cute little jump suit.
Published Oct. 28, 2014
Regarding a new arena, the rhetoric is about politics, Downtown development, recreational facilities and history versus progress - but it's really all about the Milwaukee Bucks and the ability of this city to keep them here.
Published Oct. 26, 2014
One of the greatest American plays ever written, "The Glass Menagerie" is about a controlling, difficult mother and her two children, both trapped by their own devils. Take that famous play, shoot it full of steroids and you've got "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds," the Paul Zindel play currently getting a striking and emotional treatment by Splinter Group.
Published Oct. 24, 2014
Michael Pink, the artistic director of the Milwaukee Ballet, is an artist who has a great respect and affection for the literary and musical giants of past, just has he has a diligent commitment to encouraging and producing new works. But more than anything else, Pink is a storyteller, a man in love with a good yarn that tells a tale of romance, adventure and the forces of good and evil.
Published Oct. 23, 2014
Betrayal, revenge, a little more betrayal, a little more revenge, then even more revenge and a white lace handkerchief. That's about all you have to know about "My Dear Othello," the Theatre Gigante production opening tonight at the Kenilworth Studio 508 Theater.
Published Oct. 23, 2014
When you want to decide who to vote for in a particular election -- like the governor's race that's on our doorstep -- probably the absolute worst way to get information about the candidates is through television or radio ads. There is probably nothing more inaccurate of deceitful than these ads which are created by campaigns, parties and various support groups.
Published Oct. 21, 2014
The Green Bay Packers destroyed the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and were leading, 21-0, after one quarter. It led me to wonder: is it better, or more fun to watch, a rout or a nail-biter.
Published Oct. 20, 2014
It was just a rehearsal - no costumes, no set, no orchestra, no chorus, no plush seats, no lights on stage. As a matter of fact, there was no stage at all, just a piano. And the whole thing was in German. In spite of all of those things that weren't there, the thing that was there was a fascinating story and some amazing voices that told the story with such romance and strength that I followed the whole thing from my folding chair.