Flashdance - The Musical

by Eva Neil

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday March 12, 2015

Flashdance - The Musical

If '80s nostalgia is your jam, then pull on your leg warmers and be sure you don't miss the stage adaptation of "Flashdance - The Musical," which opened this Wednesday at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit, Michigan.

The show centers on strong-willed Alex Owens, played by Australia-native Karli Dinardo, a steel worker in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who moonlights as an exotic dancer and longs to be accepted into a prestigious ballet school. Owens' dreams are sidetracked by an attraction to the new plant manager, Nick Hurley, played by Adam J. Rennie.

Dinardo's precise and expressive dance moves ground the performance and really define where this show's strengths lie, in dance. She stays true to Alex's spunky character and her charming smile is unwavering throughout, whereas Rennie's voice is his saving grace.

Dinardo and Rennie bring separate strengths to their performances, but struggle to weld their strengths into a believable relationship. Her solid moves and his inspiring vocal range are accompanied by a stellar supporting cast, who steal the show in almost every company scene.

One such actor who draws the eye is Heidi Friese as the bright-eyed and hopeful ingťnue, Gloria. Gloria dreams to star as a music video star on MTV. She is seduced by the sleazy Chameleon club owner, C.C. played by Randy Charleville, with promises of fame and fortune and is lured away from Harry's club, where she dances with Alex. Friese had the audience rooting for her and her comedian beau Jimmy, played by Jacob Tischler from her first sashay on stage in the dynamic "Maniac" number.

Tischler also deserves serious recognition as the comic relief who delivered each joke and punch line flawlessly. The audience laughed each time they were predictably supposed to, and were rooting for Jimmy and Gloria's love story, maybe even more than for Alex and Nick's.

The other standout supporting character was Hannah, played by Patricia Bartlett. Although it is abundantly clear that Hannah is the mother hen and serves a purpose to highlight Alex's vulnerability, she delivers some strong-willed, motherly advice to which we can all relate. Her voice rang out strong and clear; exactly what you need from your mom when your ballet dreams are at stake.

The rest of the talented, stretch jersey knits and neon-clad ensemble rounded out the cast with striking footwork and flair to boot. Michael Kingston as Harry, Danielle Marie Gonzalez as Tess, and Brianna-Marie Bell as Kiki are a charming trio as the owner and dancers, respectively, at Harry's club.

While each performance had its own strengths and weaknesses, the show as a whole was high-energy and, if the scrunchies and leg warmers in the audience were any indication, exactly what a generation of Madonna-loving men and women needed after a cold Michigan winter. The music by Robbie Roth and lyrics by Roth and Cary kept the liveliness of the neon-bordered set alive. The score includes the hit songs from the movie, "Flashdance-What a Feeling," "Maniac," "Gloria," "Man Hunt" and "I Love Rock and Roll." Along with these hit songs, that all became hits in 1983 when the movie was released, are 16 original songs that were written for the stage show.

Sergio Trujillo directed and choreographed "Flashdance - The Musical" featuring a book by Robert Cary and Tom Hedly. Set design by Klara Zieglerova, lighting by Howell Binkley, costume design by Paul Tazewell, projection design by Peter Nigrini, sound design by Kevin Kennedy, associate direction by Brad Rouse, and associate choreography by Edgar Godineaux and Natalie Caruncho make us feel smack dab in the center of life in 1980s Pittsburgh.

"Flashdance - The Musical" runs through March 22 at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, MI. For information or tickets, call 1-800-982-2787 or visit www.broadwayindetroit.com or www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are also available at the Fisher Theatre box office.