'Flashdance — The Musical' debuts in its native Pittsburgh
There's a lot of Pittsburgh pride bound up in “Flashdance — The Musical,” which officially opened Thursday at Heinz Hall as a presentation of PNC Broadway Across America — Pittsburgh.
Producers chose to hold its world premiere and tour launch here, and the play is set in Pittsburgh.
Two actors in prominent roles — Matthew Hydzik and Rachelle Rak — were born and bred in the 'Burgh.
Like the iconic 1983 movie that was filmed here, the town's grit and greenery is shown to good advantage, thanks to Klara Zieglerova's colorful, swiftly changing scenic designs.
The production might downplay the story's original mid-'80s period and allow the show to be sprinkled with verbal and visual anachronisms. But Tom Hedley and Robert Cary's script captures the language and independent, spunky, self-reliant nature of the era's residents who worked in the steel mills and drank in the bars.
At its core is a pleasant, upbeat but unsurprising story about Alex, a feisty, independent woman with a day job as a welder in a steel plant. She spends her evenings dancing in a local bar that's classier than the strip club down the block. The women are in control, creating and performing their dance routines that are imaginative and sexually provocative.
However, Alex's real dream is to become a classical ballet dancer, an ambition she feels is beyond her reach.
Actress Emily Padgett neatly and appealingly captures Alex's self-reliant, realistic spirit while remaining charmingly upbeat and hopeful. She's a versatile, energetic dancer who can breakdance as well as pirouette neatly.
She's more than a match for Hydzik's Nick Hurley, whose advances she initially rejects because he's her employer.
She and Hydzik have a nice chemistry and make an attractive couple, although Hydzik looks far too young to be wearing double-breasted jackets and running a steel mill.
The show's weakest link is the score.
Energy and interest levels too often drop as singers reveal their inner emotions in heartfelt-but-lackluster songs such as “Dealbreaker,” “Justice” and “Hang On.”
It's much more fun to watch the colorful, over-the-top dance numbers in which Padgett's Alex and her three pals Kiki (DeQuina Moore), Gloria (Kelly Felthous) and Tess (Rachelle Rak) don costume designer Paul Tazewell's elaborate, vibrant, suggestively sensual costumes for dance-club numbers, most notably “Maniac,” Moore's “Manhunt” and Rak's assertive near-showstopper “I Love Rock And Roll.”
Director and choreographer Sergio Trujillo also deserves much credit for keeping the show's pacing swift and clear as it moves between an abundance of locations.
He succeeds at showcasing the dance skills of principal players and ensemble dancers who can moonwalk, pole dance and glissade with equal grace and ability.
It's important to keep in mind that this is a brand-new musical and the performances here are the first in a national tour. So, despite its Pittsburgh world premiere, “Flashdance — The Musical” is somewhat like the characters we see onstage: a show that is still in the process of achieving its dream.
Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penn State coach fires offensive coordinator
- PSU Fayette men’s basketball team loses to Lock Haven
- High school notebook: TJ, Clairton head into enemy territory
- Police charge New Florence man in St. Clair officer’s killing
- Norway mulls using medical heroin to prevent deadly overdoses
- Fatal HOV lane crash in Ross under investigation
- Soutmoreland girls basketball team primary goal: playoffs
- New Kensington man killed in North Buffalo crash
- Penguins centermen enjoying better faceoff success rate
- Israel suspends contact with some EU groups over labels on exports
- Iran gives investors glimpse of $30 billion in oil deals to come