Take a leap in your leggings for Flashdance The Musical

I was 3 years old Flashdance came out in theaters. But it was something I got obsessed with around the fifth grade when my friends and I rented it from Blockbuster Video. I instantly fell head over heels for Jennifer Beals’ off-the-shoulder sweatshirt look, legwarmers and penchant for working out really hard and then rehydrating with diet soda. I couldn’t dance as a kid even though my granny enrolled me in ballet, tap and jazz. I sucked at all three and I was tall and chubby. In fact, I was so tall and chubby, by second grade I was already 5-foot-4 and bigger than my teacher. The little demons in the class begged “Joanie, can you please tell your mom you’re sick and can’t come to our recital? We don’t want you at our show.”

After my dance instructor told me to “suck in my beer belly” I told my grandma and mom I wanted to quit. They took me out for ice cream to celebrate my short dance career. Although I pursued singing and writing, dance is the one thing I secretly wished I could do. And so I sat for hours in my ‘80s bedroom watching Flashdance, Dirty Dancing and Footloose attempting to reenact the moves in my L.A. gear sneakers. I never quite got the moves but inside, I know I have the heart of a dancer much like Beals’ character Alex Owens in Flashdance.

When I heard Flashdance The Musical was coming to Broward Center Fort The Performing Arts, I couldn’t wait to take my passion and make it happen. I took my granny Joan Magazzolo to the show on opening night March 6. I sat in eager anticipation of seeing one of my favorite guilty pleasure films unfold live before my very eyes.

The play opened just like the movie with sparks flying around Owens  (played by Emily Padgett) in a Pittsburgh steel mill.  By night, she’s an exotic dancer who doesn’t take it all off, but dreams of someday getting into an upscale ballet school.

Padgett sang and danced through an elaborate set that included high energy street scenes with breakdancers, strip bar scenes and dance studio scenes. I was disappointed at the end of the first act when Padgett was supposed to get soaked in water just like in the film. Unfortunately, there was some sort of technical difficulty and the splash didn’t happen.

Despite the couple next to me who kept annoying me by tweeting on iPhones throughout the first act, I enjoyed the ‘80s hits featured in the play from the film’s soundtrack such as “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” and “ Gloria.”

With a toned body, fluffy brown locks and a tomboy sizzling with sex appeal attitude, Padgett looks strikingly similar to Beals sashaying around the stage sweetly singing “Here and Now” and “Where I Belong.” The musical is very close to the plot of the film, with very minor differences. The ‘80s costumes were a truly fun aspect of the show as the cast paraded in stonewashed denim jackets, double-breasted blazers, slinky tuxedo tops, leather booties and jeggings.

Highlights of the show include original numbers “Hannah’s Answer,” the timely tune “New Economy” and of course Padgett’s big audition to “What A Feeling.”

While the musical is on the road and won’t hit Broadway until this August, I like that this show has been released in an untraditional format. America gets to see it first and then New York. This is after all the working girls’ musical—a blue-collar epiphany that happened during a time when talent and dedication was required to make it—not just a reality show shtick or a moronic You Tube video.

Flashdance The Musical reminds its audience with any art comes sacrifice. Only you can hold yourself back from your dreams or seeing this show that will make your inner ‘80s child smile. Padgett summed it up best in the play with the tender lyrics “It’s better to leap and fall than never leap at all.”


Flashdance The Musical runs March 5-17 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., in Fort Lauderdale.Tickets cost $39.50-$79.50. Call 954-462-0222 or visit for details.

Contact Joanie Cox-Henry at or follow her tweets at


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