Flashdance – The Musical slams the boards of the Peabody Opera House, January 8-13 as part of the second leg of the newly minted national tour.
The musical is based on the 1983 hit film starring lesbian icon Jennifer Beals and remains a gay favorite with its infectious, high energy soundtrack and story of prevailing against the odds. Flashdance is tailor made for the MTV generation and beyond, making generous use of video – and tells the compelling story of Alex Owens, a working-class girl from Pittsburgh striving to make her dreams of becoming a professional dancer a reality. She works by day at a steel mill, where she catches the eye of her boss Nick Hurley. By night she works as a “flashdancer” at a local bar, but longs to become a student at the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy.
Broadway stars Emily Padgett and Matthew Hydzik marquee the tour, playing Alex and Nick, respectively. A second company will be assembled for the creatively reworked production of Flashdance, which will begin performances on Broadway in August 2013 for an open-ended engagement.
Padgett will be among those making the move mid-tour to the Broadway production – but she’s no stranger to “The Great White Way”. She performed as a swing in Grease and was in the chorus of Legally Blonde before making the jump from understudy to leading lady as Sherri in the hit musical Rock of Ages.
“I was definitely a fan of the movie,” says Padgett of Flashdance. “I was a little young – it was a little bit before my time. But I was definitely a fan of the music and the hopeful idea of this tough girl – this girl who worked in a steel mill as a woman in the 80s – this bad ass girl who took care of herself, who was also vulnerable and wanted something so bad but had that paralyzing fear of failure.”
In fact, Padgett had to come to terms with her own fear of failure when Flashdance – The Musical’s director and choreographer, Sergio Trujillo eyed her for the role two years ago. Like many Broadway performers, Padgett had grown up dancing, but focused on acting and singing because she wanted to play roles.
“I did a couple of table reads and they wanted to have a big audition for the best dancers in the city to come in and audition,” Padgett recalls “He wanted me to come and really fight for the role and be “that girl” and I, like Alex, was so scared of failing and falling down and not being good enough, that I said no. I ran away and he auditioned a lot of other dancers but I think my vulnerable quality and that kind of thing was so like the character that he fought for me. He wanted me to do this.”
The original Paramount Pictures film was a worldwide smash hit that became a pop culture phenomenon, grossing over $150 million and featuring a Grammy Award-winning soundtrack. Flashdance – The Musical features a score including the hit songs from the movie, all of which became Top Ten hits on the radio around the world including the Academy Award-winning title song “Flashdance – What a Feeling,” “Maniac,” “Gloria,” “Manhunt” and “I Love Rock & Roll.” In addition to these hits, 16 brand new original songs have been written for the stage by Robbie Roth and Robert Cary.
“The new songs were influenced by Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen,” Padgett explains. “They’re all pop songs but they are story telling songs that really help us tell the story, but keep it in the time period. It’s so great and the way it goes from a book song to “I Love Rock & Roll” – when you hear those hooks the audience is going to go crazy. It’s such a great combination of new material and material that people love. And the projections and the video – it’s really going to be fantastic. I can’t wait to hear what audiences think.”
Asked what she hopes St. Louis audiences take away from the musical and Padgett says without a doubt, it’s the story.
“I hope people take away the message to not be afraid to be who you are and to not be afraid to fall down, you have to try,” she concludes. “I hope that when people come to see our show – it’s such a fighting show – all the characters are fighting for something. I hope people feel inspired and want to go out and fight for their dream or whatever that they think is right and feel good about themselves.”
By COLIN MURPHY - EDITOR
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