What a Feeling
Flashdance the Musical adds more songs, more script and real performances to the 1980s movie.
A number of dance-movie-musicals came out in the ‘80s, but the granddaddy of them all remains Flashdance, the story of a welder-by-day, exotic dancer-by-night who dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer. The original 1983 film starring Jennifer Beals was a box office smash, fueled by the rise of the music video and its catchy soundtrack.
Thirty years later, that soundtrack is back, but in a totally different way, thanks to Flashdance the Musical. The adaptation, which premiered in London in 2008 and is presently in residence at the Marcus Center during its nationwide tour, has had its storyline ever-so-slightly tweaked for the stage, but its biggest change might be to the very thing that made the film famous. Its dancing has to be live; no body doubles or lip syncing allowed.
That’s one of the things actress DeQuina Moore, playing the supporting role of Kiki in the touring production, loves most about the show. “You fall, you’ve got to get back up,” she says. “You can’t use body doubles on stage, so all the actors have to be more talented.”
She would know exactly how talented they all are, having been with the tour for over a year. Her character is a new addition for the stage production, incorporating elements of lead character Alex Owens’ friends from the film version. Moore says Kiki is the sassy, fun member of the play’s four flashdancers, and plays an important role in helping push Alex to achieve her dreams – since she herself hasn’t been able to do the same. “Kiki’s been through everything,” Moore says, adding that the character’s backstory includes a former stint at a strip club to earn money to support her daughter, and a troubled relationship with that club’s owner, who’s also her ex-boyfriend. “But when she’s on stage, you see Kiki open up and live.”
One element of the film that gets thoroughly fleshed out in the stage adaptation is the dancers’ love for dance as a way of telling stories. That’s the setup for Moore’s big number: “Manhunt,” one of the four songs from the film woven into the 20-song score. In the film, “Manhunt” is just background for a dance number, but Moore says the musical makes the song more important, a Grace Jones-esque story Kiki has the opportunity to tell.
Perhaps the best thing about Flashdance, for Moore, is that she hasn’t stopped feeling inspired by the show’s message of never giving up your dreams, just as resonant three decades after it first came to life. “[Flashdance] really connects with all different people of all different cultures,” Moore says. “I enjoy doing a piece of work that’s life-changing, not just a fun party – although it is a fun party.”
Flashdance the Musical runs through Sunday, March 9 at the Marcus Center. Tickets range from $30 to $85 and can be purchased at (414) 273-7206 or the Marcus Center box office.
PREVIEW: The Temperamentals at Theatrical Tendencies
Last year at this time, Theatrical Tendencies, Milwaukee’s only LGBT-focused theater group, turned its gaze into the past, to examine the early days of the AIDS pandemic with The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s mostly autobiographical play about his embattled efforts to raise awareness of the disease. This year, largely by coincidence, they go back again, but ever further – to the 1950s, when American society was oppressed by a codified morality that included draconian anti-gay laws.
That’s the setting of The Temperamentals, a 2009 play about the founding of the Mattachine Society, one of America’s first gay rights groups. It’s a docudrama with a romance intertwined – the love affair between Harry Hay, the man who first conceived of the group, and Rudi Gernreich, a fashion designer who became Hay’s first co-founder and romantic partner but finds himself drifting to the opposite side of a conflict, choosing quiet assimilation over activism.
The Temperamentals opens March 7 and runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through March 22 at Soulstice’s Tamsett Theatre, 3770 S. Pennsylvania Ave. Tickets are $20, $10 for students with ID, and can be ordered at their online box office.
Apparently, when you throw a new music group and a dance company together, sometimes you get a piece of quasi-musical theater. That’s what you could call Temptation’s Snare, a reworking of Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale. The new piece mixes Stravinsky’s original score with pieces by Sleeping Giant, a New York composers’ collective that took The Soldier’s Tale as a jumping-off point for a new suite of pieces. Present Music will perform the hybrid score, while Danceworks stages a new script that modernizes the original and turns its lead from a male soldier to a female musician – although its central conflict, over a deal with the devil that swaps a soulful violin for fame and wealth, remains intact to be told by narrator Jason Powell.
Temptation’s Snare will be performed at Next Act Theatre March 6 to 9. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. excepting the 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinee, and range from $25 to $35 with a half-off discount for students. Call (414) 271-0711 or visit the online box office to order.
CLOSING THIS WEEK:
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre: October, Before I Was Born, through March 9
Milwaukee Rep: Woody Sez, Stackner Cabaret, through March 9
ALSO ON STAGE:
Milwaukee Rep: The Whipping Man, Stiemke Studio, through March 16; An Iliad, Quadracci Powerhouse, through March 23
First Stage: Anatole, Todd Wehr Theatre, through March 16
In Tandem: Chesapeake, through March 16
Fireside: Mary Poppins, through April 20