On seeing the Flashdance musical

So on this snowy day when things that I had planned to do have been cancelled due to weather (and when I'm pretty happy to still be on vacation and not at work), I figure I had best type a bit about last night when I saw the Flashdance musical (with my parents although they had far better seats than I did). I think I'll type about three separate things: the experience itself, the plot (note that I had never actually seen the film although I've seen the occasional clip), and the actual production quality itself.

It was nice to meet up with my parents before the show… to talk a bit and well, people watch a bit. The crowd in attendance was predominantly female and most folks were in pretty gorgeous clothing. My seat was up in the second balcony (front center and it was great to not have anyone in front of me though I do prefer being a little bit closer on occasion… if I have to be far away this was the perfect place to sit). And there was no one in the row behind me nor in the seats on either side of me. This show was definitely not sold out. But there was a group of women three rows up to my right who were talking through the performance on occasion which was truly frustrating. They stopped after I glared at them but I had to do that during both halves of the performance. Gah. Do people actually not understand theatre etiquette? I mean sure there was an issue with one person to my far left whose cell phone light went off at least once, which was also slightly annoying but oh well. The actual performance was mostly without a hitch though the second half didn't start for quite some time after I expected it to (I wonder if there was a technical glitch)… and the snow didn't start falling until I was home and likely asleep later in the evening.

As for the plot and characters… I was quite honestly surprised at how much I HATED the heavily done, very patriarchal, very frustrating battles that the female characters had to deal with in the first half. I had such a viseral reaction to some of the power imbalances (and how they were taken advantage of) that existed in the first half. I mean, it makes sense in the musical form in the 1980s, given the base narrative in question. I'm not sure that the behaviour in the first half would be excuseable in reality in the second half even given what folks do to repair the wrongs that they've committed, but some of the situations in the first half do strike me as abusive/lacking consent/etc. There are a lot of male gaze situations that I could talk about at length (but I'm also not about to spoiler the musical for you), and there are a number of other inappropriate things that happen here — but you know what these things do and did happen in the 1980s (and still now). I like to hope watching theatre like this will cause people to discuss some of these issues/behaviours. And you know what I'm glad that I'm aware of this. There are of course many things that made me feel uncomfortable about the plot but you know what, that's kind of the point. And so while I'm torn about my appreciation of the first half of the performance because of the plot, the second half mostly makes me a bit happier on a whole. I don't think that solutions are THAT easy in real life, but of course this is theatre, based on a film, sure, but it's theatre.

Finally talking about the performance itself. The costumes were beautifully well done. I adored those. The dance numbers were fabulous — ballet, break dancing, good choreography, fun burlesque-esque numbers, strip-tease, etc. The sets were well constructed to evoke the different scenes and the lighting was really well done. I thought that this was really worth watching. And then there's the music. At times (particularly in the first half) there were some sound level issues, and there were some lyrics that I couldn't understand. But the second half included some amazing numbers. The 1980s music that is incorporated into this performance is outstanding. Sure there are the more iconic songs from the movie, but there are some good surprises. I really liked the second half's music a lot. And the closing number was super fun. On a whole the plot might be a little underdeveloped, but the performance was worth the price tag.