Stepping it Up: 'Flashdance The Musical' brings decade of decadent dance to Broadway stage

2013-07-25T00:00:00Z 2013-07-25T15:10:30Z Stepping it Up: 'Flashdance The Musical' brings decade of decadent dance to Broadway stageBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Actor Matthew Henerson admits being a little confused when his agent said a New York casting team was flying to Los Angeles to audition him for a role in their planned national Broadway tour of "Flashdance The Musical."

"I remember thinking to myself, 'What part could they possibly want me for? And don't they have middle aged men in New York?' " Henerson said.

"But I discovered they were coming to Los Angeles to also cast some dancers and the role they had in mind for me was a fit."

Henerson was cast and has been with the tour since it launched early this year. He plays Harry the owner of a club with a stable of amazing dancers all eager for their big break as the decade of the 1980s is beginning to heat up in every way, from fashion and dance to attitude and the emergence of new music.

After a three-week summer hiatus, "Flashdance The Musical," the first national tour of the stage adaptation of the 1983 hit film, is returning to touring dates next month with Broadway in Chicago hosting the first run, opening Aug. 6 and playing until Aug. 18 at Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago.

Joining Henerson is Jillian Mueller as Alex Owens and Matthew Hydzik as Nick Hurley, along with Katie Webber as Tess, Kelly Felthous as Gloria, DeQuina Moore as Kiki, Jo Ann Cunningham as Hannah, David R. Gordon as Jimmy and Christian Whelan in the role of C.C.

"Audiences have such a great time at this show because so many people have forgotten how much fun it is to experience this story and the music," Henerson said.

"My role is mostly plot driven. So I have a chance to stand off stage and watch the incredible young talent gathered for this tour doing amazing dance numbers."

Henerson said the story for the stage musical adaptation was created by Robert Cary and Tom Hedley, the latter who was co‐writer of the original screenplay with Joe Eszterhas.

"The film was released right at the time when MTV was taking off and it helped fuel that same movement for the growing popularity of music videos," Henerson said.

"It's also the movie credited for saving Paramount Studios."

Celebrating its 30th Anniversary, the original Paramount Pictures film was a worldwide smash hit that became a pop culture phenomenon, grossing more than $150 million and featuring a Grammy Award‐winning soundtrack.

Henerson said it's the drive and ambition of the lead character, Alex Owens, audiences admire. A Pittsburgh steel mill welder by day and a bar dancer by night with dreams of one day becoming a professional performer, she finds romance with her steel mill boss which further complicates matters.

After rehearsals that started last November in New York, "Flashdance The Musical" launched on tour Jan. 1 in Pittsburgh.

The stage production 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 songs were written for the stage run, which is directed and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo with music by Robbie Roth and lyrics by Robert Cary and Robbie Roth.

Henerson, whose father James Henerson was a television writer for popular comedies like "I Dream of Jeannie" and "Bewitched," said it's not uncommon to see audiences who attend the show wearing leg-warmers, headbands and off-the-shoulder torn sweatshirts in homage to the dancers from the past decade.

"I call it an '80s street look," Henerson said.

"And along with the breakdancing happening on stage, it just adds to the atmosphere."

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