“Flashdance” – ASU Gammage

This review aired on KBAQ May 2, 2013


Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

The stage adaptation of the popular “Flashdance” film, at ASU Gammage this week in a tacky touring production that has never played Broadway, is embarrassingly inept.  The show itself is awful but we all knew that from the mundane film version it is based on.  The movie song hits are included but they are surrounded and ambushed by mediocre sounding filler tunes.  And the production is so awful that to label it professional will doom Broadway theater forever.

Everybody knows Tom Hedley and Robert Cary’s story about Alex Owens, a female steel worker who dances on the side and dreams of becoming a professional dancer.  There’s no surprise at the show’s final curtain when Alex is accepted into an uppity dance company.

The film was enjoyable entertainment but the stage version never reaches emotional believability because its cardboard characters and predictable plot hasn’t any stage magic.  And those five movie songs, while nothing memorable, are humable.  But composer Robbie Roth’s additional songs are so awful that they are dwarfed by the soundtrack originals.

But “Flashdance” should be a diverting entertainment and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But to be entertaining, the production has to zing with creativity and be performed by a great singing and dancing ensemble that convincingly create believable characters.  Sergio Trujillo’s mundane staging and choreography is loaded with tiresome clichés and lacks the slightest bit of adventure.

But what is really awful in this worst touring production to play here in years is the cast.  To entrust Alex, a starring role, to an obvious chorus person by letting the inept Rebecca Riker play the role is a dreadful miscalculation.  Alex’s second act dance solo “Let Go” gets Alex into the prestigious dance school but the execution opening night was filled with mistakes and awkward movements, in a sloppy and inept performance.  Riker’s singing is at best mediocre but she has no ability to belt out any of the show’s big tunes.  Opposite her as Nick Hurley, her love interest, is Matthew Hydzik who has neither the acting nor singing ability to properly craft the role.  Every terrible performer in this company lacks any spark of personality so the audience couldn’t care less about any character.  If this show is to work, the audience must care about each person.

Sets are tacky and they are moved so awkwardly that every stagehand is seen several times by the audience.  Costumes look like they’ve been through a war and lack sparkle.

“Flashdance” is awful.  Please don’t think “Flashdance” is what Broadway musical theater is all about.  It continues through May 5.  For tickets, call the ASU Gammage Ticketmaster box office at 800-982-2787 or order tickets online at www.asugammage.com.

Grade: F