A tribute to the ‘80s
At the Patchogue Theatre, the ‘80s are brought to life in the most recent Gateway Playhouse production of “Flashdance the Musical.” With Julia Macchio starring as Alex Owens, fresh off of her national tour, it is an exciting tribute to the music, feeling and style of the ‘80s.
Macchio carries the performance as the confident, young dancer who wants to pursue her dreams. It’s not easy to master two different crafts, let alone one, but Macchio has shown that her lifelong practice of dance is just one-half of her talent, as her voice is equally as outstanding in the role.
Macchio is also able to bring the character of Alex into a relatable vision. The audience believes her and feels a true personality radiate in her performance. You root for Alex as she navigates love, life and dance.
Alex’s love interest, Nick Hurley, played by Anthony Crouchelli, is an industry titan on the heels of his parents’ company. His character is harder to reach than most, and doesn’t seem to have the arc of development that others do. One would assume that a character who begins as a business leader and then approaches in love one of his employees would need a lot of adjustment to change his lifestyle. And despite the few jokes about his sports car and wealth, it doesn’t come across as a major part of his life. He doesn’t have a big, fancy office or expensive clothing. But Crouchelli does get there toward the end, sacrificing himself for his employees and being a true down-to-earth character.
One standout performance is from Laquet Sharnell Pringle, who plays the role of Kiki, one of Alex’s best friends and a fellow performer at the club. Pringle, who has played roles in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” and “The Lion King,”commands the stage with her voice. She brings to life the classic title song, “Flashdance...What a Feeling,” and serenades the audience beautifully. She also has a natural comedic tone that her character could insert at just the right times.
Another standout performance is from Diane J. Findlay, who plays the role of Hannah, Alex’s mentor and dance coach. She brings a piece of humanity to the story that gives Alex’s quest more meaning. Findlay is also excellent in the delivery of her comedic lines, and can balance her feelings between the lighthearted moments and the ones that aren’t so much. Her back and forth with her aide Louise, played by Amanda Finch, is also very humorous.
In the success of “Flashdance,” a lot of credit is due for the women on stage, particularly the contributing stars. The roles of Gloria, played by Amanda Tong, Tess, played by Danielle Marie Gonzalez, and Kiki give a deeper look into the character of Alex. Aside from the story, these three are just incredible performers. Tong is able to capture both the light and dark aspects of her character and can play them both really well. The three of them together is the perfect compliment to Macchio’s lead role.
“Flashdance,” in its Gateway rendition, is a show built for performers. The dialogue without music is few and far between, with a strong emphasis on dance and performance in general. The ensemble works really well together to make the performances feel new each time they take the stage.
This is not a play for people who want a complex story with a deep meaning. In Gateway’s production of “Cabaret”just last month, we saw a story with many layers and overtones, but “Flashdance”is not the same. The story is simple and, without the heavy performance aspects built into the show, would not do well on its own. It takes stars like Macchio to command the show as she does and give “Flashdance” meaning.
There is no denying the energy that swept the audience during the show, especially during performances of hit songs like “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Not many shows leave room for the audience to clap along, but the audience at the Aug. 31 premiere did not hold back.
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