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 June 24, 2016
"Thank You, Next," with music by Tim Rebers and lyrics by Alicia Berneche, opens as Milwaukee Opera Theatre and artistic director Jill Anna Ponasik continue to redefine what opera means, staging provocative and very relatable productions.
Published June 23, 2016
It may not be possible to be any more revolted by the Republican Party than I am right now. This week Senate Republicans, including our Sen. Ron Johnson, turned down a couple of serious attempts to enact minor laws designed to help control gun violence.
Published June 21, 2016
The Milwaukee Ballet is celebrating this summer after seeing a 15 percent boost in attendance and record revenue of $2.3 million, proving that high-quality work will capture attention - and, perhaps most importantly, dollars - in Milwaukee.
Published June 20, 2016
Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" receives a spectacular, blistering treatment at American Players Theater in Spring Green. There are many who claim this is the greatest of all American plays and, after seeing this production, it'd be hard to argue.
Published June 17, 2016
His name is "Tank," and he drives a big semi - one of 30 that will be in Milwaukee for Kenny Chesney's show at Miller Park Saturday night. He took my Uber ride and provided a little look into what it takes to keep a show like this one the road.
Published June 14, 2016
This may come across as a little heartless and dismissive but it's time to put a stop to the kind of hopeless junk that rose up after the horror of the massacre in Orlando. The only way to win the battle for gun control is with sophisticated politics.
Published June 14, 2016
Summer in Wisconsin offers dozens of quick trips that are filled with experiences new and memorable, and one of the best possible trips revolves around the lauded American Players Theater up in Spring Green.
Published June 13, 2016
A summerly discontent is what I was left with after seeing "The African Company Presents Richard III," the Carlyle Brown play about the first black theater company formed six years before New York abolished slavery.
Published June 11, 2016
Loss and the painful path to fill empty spaces left behind are at the heart of a lovely and warm-hearted production of "The Secret Garden" being staged at Soulstice Theatre under the direction of Artistic Director Jillian Smith.
Published June 9, 2016
In a carjacking incident last week, police arrested two 12-year-old boys, a 13-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy. You don't have to be a public policy expert to see that the system is broken and it's going to take influence, power and money to get it fixed.