News Column

'Flashdance' leaps from screen to stage

June 13, 2013

YellowBrix

June 13--After Tom Hedley finished writing "Flashdance," he brought it to Bob Fosse, hoping to entice the legendary stage and screen director into taking it on.

The problem? Fosse wasn't interested in it as a movie.

"He said, 'I love the character and I love the arena, but it's not a musical,'" Hedley recalled. "He said, 'Come back to me later, we'll develop it for Broadway.'"

Adrian Lyne ultimately directed the film, with a final script credited to Hedley and Joe Eszterhas. Fosse died in 1987, just a few years after the movie's 1983 release. And it took awhile, but his notion that the story would work on stage has finally been realized.

Hedley wrote the show's book and also served as producer. "Flashdance: The Musical" premiered in England in 2008, and the American tour arrives at the Majestic Theatre on Tuesday. The show got a short run in London's West End; its Broadway debut has been delayed three times, according to Playbill.com, and is slated to open next season.

The show and the film tell the same story. Both are about a young woman named Alex who makes a living as a welder and an exotic dancer, dreaming of one day studying ballet. The movie is peppered with the hits "Maniac," "Gloria" and the title tune, "Flashdance ... What a Feeling."

All of those are in the stage version, along with some new songs.

Alex's determination resonated with Jillian Mueller, who is playing the role on tour.

"When I'm performing it, I feel like I'm performing my story -- the underdog that has a big dream and wants to make it happen," Mueller said. "I can totally relate to that."

She's a big fan of the movie, which she received as a Christmas gift when she was 7.

"I was into theater and singing and dancing, and I got a whole bunch of dance movies. I remember I watched it and kind of had a fondness for it; I loved the dancing and the costumes."

The movie includes one of the pop culture images of the '80s: The moment in which Alex, dancing at a club, does a striptease that ends with her pulling a cord that unleashes a wave of water overhead. It splashes over her and she dances in it, shaking her hair and sending droplets flying.

Naturally, that scene is in the stage production. And Mueller is thrilled to get to do it.

"When does anyone get to say that they get to do that iconic scene?" she said. "In my mind, people are coming to see the show to see that moment."

dlmartin@express-news.net

Twitter: @DeborahMartinEN

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