When the Country Is Your Tryout Town: Flashdance Retools While It Circles Broadway

By Robert Simonson
14 Jan 2014

"In one of the sections of the show, the mentor to Alex is this older woman," related Routh. "We visit her in her apartment a few times. I was sitting next to a couple one night who were clearly enjoying the show. When the lights went up on the set of the old lady's home, this man audibly groaned. For me, that was a lightbulb moment: The audience really doesn't want to go back there. They like the character, because she pays off later, but they didn't really like going to this old lady's home."

As a result of that revelation, scenes in the apartment were eliminated, and the lady was incorporated into other scenes within the show's plot. "It's made the thing more seamless and integrated," said Routh.

Trujillo knew that the final dance sequence featuring welder-turned-dancer Alex would be critical. But he wasn't sure whether to duplicate the movie moment on stage or reinvent it.

"My original idea was to have Alex use different dance influences. She would begin to dance by herself and different dancers in dancing styles she had learned would appear to create a production number. What I discovered was the audience wanted to see her dance by herself. They have notions of that moment. They know what they want it to be. I changed it and now the audience explodes at the end of the show."

For both producer and director, relying more on audience reaction than critical reviews makes perfect sense for Flashdance.

"I think, clearly, Flashdance is a populist form of entertainment," said Routh. "This is never going to be the critics' darling. It's a show people are going to love and enjoy as an entertainment."

Though Routh highly values the creative dividends afforded by Flashdance's extended touring arrangement, he does not necessarily think it will be a common development model in the future.

"We have the ability to do this because Flashdance is such a recognizable title," explained the producer, "and we can do this without that Broadway imprimatur. Not every show can do that."

"I've been approached by another producer who wants to follow our path," told Trujillo. "It all depends on the brand name."

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Corey Mach and Jillian Mueller
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