August 29-Sept 15, 2018
at Patchogue Theatre
The Gateway theatre company's thrilling production of Flashdance, The Musical, is truly an electric way to end their busy Summer season. The sensational regional premiere, running through September 15th at the Patchogue Theatre, is excellently directed by Keith Andrews and boasts an absolutely superb cast. And though it is based on the famous 1983 movie, fans of the movie (like myself!) will notice several changes and will be very pleased with the stage incarnation.
Set in Pittsburgh, the tale centers on Alex Owens, strongly portrayed by Long Island native Julia Macchio. Currently, Alex is a welder by day and dances at a local club at night. We follow Alex as she - albeit hesitantly - attempts to gain a spot in the the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy, a longtime dream of hers.
Ms. Macchio is outstanding as Alex reprising the role from the international tour. I dare say that if the show ever makes it to Broadway, I could definitely see Ms. Macchio leading the cast. A quiet confidence and a beautiful voice make her a natural for the role. Alex falls for Nick, wonderfully portrayed by Anthony Crouchelli - in his Gateway debut - and I have to say that Ms. Macchio and Mr. Crouchelli make such a sweet team. Amanda Tong is also fantastic as Alex's friend Gloria. She - Gloria - has a rough time and you really root for her throughout the production. In truth, I could go on and on and on about the entire cast as they are all extraordinary.
And the clever creative team is also top-notch. Brittany Loesch's set is well done including mostly movable pieces for seamless scene changes. This is enhanced with Doug Harry's lighting and the incredible live orchestra headed up by Andrew Halie Austin. With the band, the familiar songs, and Joe Greene's spot-on costumes, you can't help but reminisce about the 1980's. And to top off the night, there is a fun dance party during the finale.
And so, Flashdance, The Musical, is certainly a special treat to end this fantastic - and quick - Summer season. A brilliant cast and a nod to the 1980's make this a fun night of theatre.
Long Island Advance
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.
Oh, what a feeling! Ending their summer 2018 season with a show that will tug at your heartstrings, The Gateway brings the electrifying and compelling story of Flashdance: The Musical to the beautifully renovated Patchogue Theater. This musical is full of big dreams, big talent and big ballads from the ’80s that will spark that nostalgic feeling and have you bopping your head and singing along with the company.
Long Island native Julia Macchio—and daughter of the karate kid himself, Ralph Macchio—headlines the production as Alexandra “Alex” Owens, a young steelworker who doubles at night as a singer/dancer at a club. Macchio is no stranger to her wide-eyed, big-haired character, having performed around the world as Alex in the International Tour of the show.
There are so many moments during the show where you find yourself lost in the spellbinding music, especially the slower arrangement of the hit song “Gloria.” The song fits the story so well, yet it doesn’t lose the flavor of the original. Amanda Tong as the flighty Gloria is everything you want her to be—sweet natured, a little ditzy, but a loyal and loving friend—with that ’80s hair, teased and topped with a gaudy headband. Gloria sings her namesake song as her own ballad, softly at first and rising to a crescendo as the show progresses and she finds herself in a bad situation.
The central focus of this production is dance. Macchio brings a level of talent and poise to her character, and it truly seems as if this role was made for her. At heart a professional dancer, the passion for dance began early for this young starlet, right here at the Long Island Academy of Dance. A Hofstra University graduate, Macchio has performed on some of the most iconic stages in the world, including a stint in the Radio City Spring Spectacular Workshop.
In the show, Alex’s dream of attending a prestigious dance school in Pittsburgh is the grand prize, but she suffers from self-doubt—though when she takes the stage to dance she is mesmerizing. Alex catches the eye of Nick Hurley, whose wealthy family owns the steel mill Alex is apprenticing at. Alex rejects Nick vehemently at first, but this story would not be complete without a case of star-crossed lovers. Anthony Crouchelli as Nick is humble, caring and kind—not at all what Alex expected of this privileged man. Crouchelli as Nick is endearing, charming and attentive to Alex, and she basks in his love and warmth. The chemistry between the pair is delightful and passionate, and you can’t help but root for this young couple.
The iconic “Maniac” song and its fast-paced, mind-boggling dance moves seem almost effortless to Macchio, who moves with the kind of easy grace that speaks to her many hours working on her craft. Gateway is always on point with their talent choices, but they hit it out of the park with casting Macchio as their lead. As Alex, she is so believable, so real it is awe-inspiring.
The entire cast is immensely talented and Alex’s friends/back up singers really get the crowd going with their infectious energy and talent. Danielle Marie Gonzalez reprises her role as Tess, whom she played during the National Tour of Flashdance. Tess is an untamed beauty and her performance of the rock ballad “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” is spicy and electric—the girl is on fire. Kiki, played by Laquet Sharnell Pringle, has powerhouse vocals that will have you cheering for more. She’s captivating and commands the stage during her sexy performance of “Manhunt.”
The impressive set includes a walkway into the crowd, myriad moving parts and a backdrop including the “steel city” that was Pittsburgh in 1983. Directed and choreographed by Keith Andrews and Vincent Ortega, Gateway once again delivers on its promise to stage Broadway-caliber productions right here on Long Island.
Flashdance: The Musical is one not to miss for so many reasons—the nostalgic music of the ’80s, the incredible dancing, and the one and only Julia Macchio, whose career is destined to be great. She was a delightful surprise that I hope we see more of on the Gateway stage.
The Theatre Guide
What a feeling! Flashdance opened at the Patchogue Theater this past weekend, and marks both New York’s regional premiere of the show, as well as an impressive end to an awesome summer season. Directed and choreographed by Keith Andrews, the show stars Julia Macchio as the beautiful and vivacious Alex Owens, as she “dances for her life” amongst a talented cast of performers who truly bring this 80’s classic to life.
Alexandra “Alex” Owens (Macchio) works for a steel mill by day, but lives to dance every night. She fulfills her passion by dancing at Harry’s Bar, a local spot where she does cabaret. She secretly pines to be accepted to Shipley Dance Academy, a prestigious school for accomplished and polished dancers. The juxtaposition of her and her pretty in pink counterparts is portrayed cleverly through the use of lighting and set to create a physical divide between Alex and her dreams (one the audience hopes she has the courage to break through). Although she has the support of her spunky friend Gloria, played by the captivating Amanda Tong, it isn’t until she is bolstered by the praise of her long time friend and mentor, Hannah (the charming and talented Diane Findlay), and the adulation of her love interest and boss, Nick Hurley (the charismatic Anthony Crouchelli), that she decides to take a leap of faith and audition. The story that follows is full of surprise and anguish- Alex is the classic underdog, and you can’t help but root for her.
Although there were a few sound issues right from the start of the show, the cast didn’t miss a beat and delivered a solid performance. Alex (Macchio) and Gloria (Tong) had a sincere connection on stage, and the relationship between Alex and Hannah (Findlay) was both humorous and tender. While the major players on stage were engaging and believable, it was some of the minor characters who really stood out and shined. Both Laquet Sharnell Pringle (Kiki) and Danielle Marie Gonzalez (Tess) owned the stage as friends of Alex at Harry’s Bar- both with solo performances which garnered enthusiastic attention and applause. Additionally, Ryan Williams made a terrifically terrible C.C. The ensemble, as well, wowed with incredible dance performances both during the show and even during scene changes!
Highlights of this show include the spot on costume design and exciting conclusion of Act I with Alex’s iconic chair dance and water finish! The addition of screens to enhance the set (scenic design by Brittany Loesch) adds both depth and vibrancy to each scene, especially the colorful dance numbers. The best part by far, however, is after the curtain call! Just when you think it’s over, prepare to be wowed! I won’t say any more- you’ll want to experience it for yourself.
Gateway’s performance of Flashdance is one you won’t want to miss. With its talented cast, lineup of awesome numbers, and tiny gems in the way of supporting cast and unexpected surprises, you will leave feeling like you have had a genuine 80’s experience!
One last note- while this show is full of fun and excitement, it does contain scenes which are mature in nature. Parents should be advised that there is sexual content and lyrics, so leave the little ones at home and come let the music “take hold of your heart” because “bein’s believin’”!