At one time, the mega-hit "Flashdance" was imagined as a stage musical, and not a movie.
That 1983 film made Jennifer Beals a star and turned dance togs into fashion must-haves. And now, we can see how things might have been with "Flashdance — the Musical" coming to the Broward Center for a two-week run beginning Tuesday, March 5.
"I was young and naive," says part-time Palm Beacher Tom Hedley, who co-wrote the script with Joe Eszterhas. "I thought, 'Wouldn’t it be great if I could talk Bob Fosse into doing this film?' He was very kind. He read the script several times. He had notes for me. He hated rock ’n’ roll … but thought it was a very good idea for the stage. Paramount just laughed. They said, 'We own it,' and I had already cashed the check, so that was that. But it has the structure of a theater musical. You know, Fosse caught a preview [of the movie], and he phoned me out of the blue one day and said, 'It’s going to make a lot of money,' and he hung up."
Co-writing the musical's book with Robert Cary (who also wrote the lyrics), Hedley saw "Flashdance" make it to the stage 25 years later, when the show premiered in Britain in 2008 before going on a United Kingdom tour and eventually landing in London’s West End in 2010.
"It’s not a sendup," Cary explains. "This is not 'Xanadu' or 'The Wedding Singer.' We are trying to tell the story sincerely and not in quotes. So the music isn't a pastiche. We tried to use sounds that suggest early Pat Benatar or Duran Duran. Or maybe we do some early, early Madonna without copying her ... making the audience say, 'This is a take on ‘Borderline.' "
The creative team has their eyes on Broadway. "What we are waiting for is a theater," Hedley says. "And that is dictated by who wins a Tony and who doesn't win a Tony. You wait and see who isn't standing up, because you know that theater might come open. You always wait for that before you negotiate your final deal."
“Flashdance — the Musical” runs March 5-17 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Shows are 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinee Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesday, March 13; 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost from $39.50 to $79.50. Call 954-462-0222 or visit BrowardCenter.org.