WORLD PREMIERE OF FLASHDANCE IN BRNO
Karla Hofmanová 1. November 2013 zdroj KAM v Brně
The musical ensemble has been given yet another opportunity to shine. Director Stanislav Moša didn´t waste a single moment of the time he had to bring the protagonists into impressive situations that moved the hearts as well as the diaphragms of the spectators. He was successful in his cooperation with the author of the stage set, Christopher Weyers, and the choreographers Igor Barberić and Aneta Majerová. The choreography was the strongest element of the story, mixing the two worlds of rock-style modern dance and classical “on tiptoes” dancing.
The impressive stage set, which can be transformed through the mere movement of details from a huge factory hall into a cabaret, home environment or street, reflects the hopeless lives of common factory workers. The main character, Alex, is employed as a welder (the initial ignition on the dark stage is impressive) while working in the evenings to fulfil her dream – to dance. The environment of an unprosperous cabaret reveals the problems of drugs and prostitution, but Alex is hard-headed and principled and she’s not tempted. Ex-dancer Hana, who discovered the girl when looking for talent in schools some time ago and who supports her childhood dream, brings her happiness. Only thanks to her does Alex keep on fighting. It’s a nice example for young people of how to overcome hopelessness through stubbornness and hard work. Dance is a passion.
Svetlana Janotová managed to wring every detail from the excellent opportunity afforded by playing Alex. She has the ideal type of figure for this character, and her dance moves and skills could compete with those of professional dancers. Her acting is direct and convincing, and she deals with the demanding singing required by the part, which keeps her on stage for almost all of the play, admirably well. Her ability to sing intimate pianos after a two-hour marathon of hard rock demonstrates good singing technique. Not everyone could manage this. Dušan Vitázek was also successful at singing and managed to model a living character. Andrea Březinová as Gloria and Aleš Slanina as Jimmy made a good comic duo and the trio of cabaret girls played by Hana Holišová, Hana Kováříková and Andrea Březinová were also very convincing and full of expression. The hard rock and wild rhythmic flow scarcely gave either the actors or the spectators time to breathe. Zdena Herfortová´s scenes as the ex-dancer Hana were more than refreshing. They added human warmth and genuineness and were moving even though the words she used were sometimes a bit on the strong side. Her song and dance number with a walking frame was perfect!
The orchestra led by conductor Dan Kalousek played briskly. Andrea Kučerová has created great costumes which sometimes almost have as much presence as the actors themselves, and make the comic situations complete. As far as the other actors are concerned, the characters of the two competing cabaret owners (Zdeněk Junák and Igor Ondříček) need to be mentioned.
Flashdance is yet another attractive title which will address mainly young spectators through both excellent performances and music. It seems that it will be a successful piece.
FLASHDANCE IN BRNO HAS BEATEN BROADWAY TO THE PUNCH
Jiří P. Kříž 1. November 2013 zdroj Právo
Stanislav Moša and his team pulled off something special at Brno City Theatre when they managed to stage the new version of the musical Flashdance faster than the planned premiere on Broadway. The famous dance show has just been touring the American hinterland since 2012. In any case, Brno´s Flashdance is a European premiere.
It was obvious from the first tones and scenes of the premiere that Brno City Theatre has entered the new season exceptionally successfully. Who doesn’t know the plot of the naïve and artistically undemanding but commercially successful film by Adrian Lyne about a welder who came to be an artist and gain a millionaire´s happiness? From way back in 1983, my God! It is the music, dance and singing that is the source of quality here.
An ample helping of praise
Robbie Roth composed the music for both versions of the musical, in contrast with the film, for which both the songs and the dance numbers were produced by Giorgio Moroder. I will leave further comparisons to specialists and instead try to describe the quality of Brno’s version of Flashdance, which owes a lot to the excellent translation of Hedley, Carry and Roth´s script and song texts by Jiří Josek.
What is fascinating is the choreography by Igor Barberić, a permanent Brno collaborator from Zagreb, and a lady raised locally, Aneta Majerová, who by the way is still number one at staging group dance choreographies. To express praise for costume maker Andrea Kučerová means repeating what one has been saying for at least ten years already. Christopher Weyers has made full use of the technical facilities on offer and his stage set is a seemingly light combination of a factory hall, dance hall and bar environment.
However, it is Svetlana Janotová´s performance that dominates the first premiere. Ivana Vaňková alternates with her in the role of Alexandra Owens. Janotová is unbelievably excellent. Her acting and singing is fascinating and she is incomparable on the Czech musical scene. I won´t be straying far from the truth if I declare her the Thalia of 2013 half a year in advance, despite the opinions of other pundits. One cannot see anything like this anywhere else in the Czech Republic!
And what is the next goal?
The same can be said about the qualities of Dušan Vitázek as her partner, Nick Hurley, even though if one wants to be very strict one could say that he needs to polish his intonation in several places in the tenor positions. Hana Holišová, Andrea Březinová and Hana Kovaříková as Kiki, Gloria and Tess are also excellent professionals.
Flashdance is unrivalled in its quality here, and a long lifetime can be predicted for it. I almost want to be provocative and say that it is perhaps time the theatre dared to produce Jonathan Larson’s Rent. Fifteen years ago they were afraid to stage this cult New York production, which I recommended as early as in 1997 shortly after seeing the Broadway premiere at Nederlander Theatre. These days they’d have no problem with it.
IT´S NEVER TOO LATE FOR A CHANGE
Lenka Šaldová 29. October 2013 zdroj Divadelní noviny
The first version of the musical had its premiere in 2008, the new version can currently be seen in America, and Brno City Theatre has obtained the rights to the European premiere – it has been proved once again that this theatre means something in the musical world! And the professional production by director Stanislav Moša and his team confirms that this is rightly so. Perfect workmanship, the lightness with which they dance, sing and speedily transfer from one situation to the next – hats off.
The Brno theatre manages to carry off the majority of scenes with praiseworthy technical bravura and infectious enthusiasm. The songs are performed from another great translation by Jiří Josek. However, everything is upstaged by Alex and the story of her journey to follow her dream. Nothing against the film Alex, but Jennifer Beals didn´t have to sing and she even didn´t dance in the film – and not only that, she had several doubles. Svetlana Janotová looks great, relaxed; she acts spontaneously, sings fantastically – and the dancing she does definitely isn´t at all easy! Igor Barberić and Aneta Majerová´s choreography combine classical dance elements with street dance elements – and there is also the famous scene with splashing water. It is worth it to accompany Alex through all her hesitation, self-persuasion and hopes. Succumb to her energy, her determination and her courage, and believe with her - at least for a short while - that it is never too late to change your life, and that to risk all and fall is better than to give up on your beautiful dreams without even trying.
ENERGETIC FLASHDANCE GOT THE MUSIC THEATRE MOVING
Iva Bryndová 9. October 2013 zdroj www.musical-opereta.cz
On 28th September, Brno City Theatre started the 2013/2014 season with the world premiere of the musical Flashdance, which is based on the famous film of the same name. Even though the musical actually first saw the light of day back in 2008, when its premiere took place in Plymouth in the UK, the adaptation which is performed at Brno City Theatre had its world premiere here, with Stanislav Moša as the director. Symbolically, it was exactly thirty years after the premiere of the legendary film original.
The main heroine of the story is Alex Owens, a girl who comes from a poor and definitely not ideal background, and who works in a steelworks as a welder. She only has the evenings to do what she really loves, which is dancing - her dream is to dance professionally, and not just at night. And then the way to do it opens up for her through entrance exams to a certain institution… The plot of the film version is very well-known. After all, the musical film by director Adrian Lyne had its premiere many years ago, in 1983, and although it didn´t gain much praise from expert critics, it became a hit with movie audiences. It has made more than one hundred million dollars, and during the first two weeks after its release, more than 700 000 records with the soundtrack were sold.
Despite this, it took nearly thirty years for Flashdance to appear in theatres. It had a premiere in 2008 at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth, UK, after which a tour around Great Britain followed, with a London premiere that took place at Shaftesbury Theatre on 10.10.2010. However, Flashdance played only for a few months at the West End before it was withdrawn and subsequently redesigned.
The script for the musical produced by David Ian was written by Tom Hedley, the author of the film script, Robbie Roth and Joe Eszterhas. Robbie Roth (also the author of the music) and Robert Cary also took part in the production of the song texts.
At present (since 5.1. 2013, when the premiere in Pittsburgh took place), an American tour has been successfully underway and a Broadway performance is also being prepared, though it has been postponed since September 2013. Brno City Theatre has thus become not only the site of the continental European premiere of this musical but also, in a certain sense, of the world premiere.
Sixteen songs have been added to the original five hits from the film, which included What a Feeling (awarded an Oscar as well as a Golden Globe) and Maniac. Even though the authors of the music for the film and the musical differ, the new songs are also written in the pop style of the 1980s and they go well with the original hits, supplementing them and in many cases reaching the same quality standard – together, the 21 songs form a perfectly functional whole. The hits from the film that you already know obviously have the advantage that they’ll be in your head even before you see the musical itself. However, the added songs keep up with them adequately and even they tend to stick in your memory - in my case one such a number was the duet Here and There.
This isn´t only thanks to the music by Robbie Roth but also because of the Czech texts. Jiří Josek took care of the translation of the whole musical into Czech. He doesn´t need to be introduced as he regularly cooperates with Brno City Theatre. His texts are both playful and easy to sing, and quite often sound so pleasant that it is hard to get them out of your head.
The atmosphere of economically collapsing Pittsburgh in the 1980s, which the authors decided to emphasize, is portrayed through the realities of Alex´s everyday life and the steelworks. The scenes which take place there are impressive and revealing, e.g. the initial scene, or the song Justice, in which the workers and also Nick participate.
The stage arrangement by Christoph Weyers helps to complete the gloomy atmosphere of Pittsburgh excellently. The set, just like Andrea Kučerová´s costumes, has the real feel of the 1980s, when the story takes place. Its main element is a bridge arch which stretches over the whole stage. Thanks to the excellent technical facilities at the Music Theatre, the set changes with impressive fluidity between a steelworks hall, a dance studio, bars and the apartments of the individual characters, without any unnecessary idle time or delays.
What definitely makes the musical Flashdance attractive, as well as different from other works currently shown on Czech theatre stages, is its dance component. It is clear from the beginning when familiarizing oneself generally with the plot that there will be plenty of dancing during the performance, and in many forms. Dance fans will definitely enjoy it. There are well-choreographed modern dance numbers including street dance and hip hop elements delivered by groups of street dancers, ballet scenes in Alex’s dreams, and solo performances from the heroine and her friends. There are really only a small amount of scenes with no dancing. The choreography by Igor Barberić and Aneta Majerová (the latter being involved mainly in the classical dance parts) is one of the musical’s greatest strengths. The ballet soloist, the company as a whole as well as the leading actors give absolutely excellent, even breathtaking, performances.
The dance numbers are one of the things which make Alex Owens probably one of the most difficult roles in musicals today. Along with the singing parts, actresses who play Alex must cope with a great quantity of dancing scenes, both group and solo ones, and they have to come to terms with elements of both modern dance and ballet. They rarely leave the stage (and then only for a short time) during the whole performance. Despite the fact that the lady who played Alex in the film had several doubles for the filming of dance scenes and didn’t even sing, and doubles were also used in the US musical, actresses who play Alex at Brno City Theatre must do without them and manage with the dance (and obviously also singing and acting) talent they have. After seeing the performance I cannot but admire them.
As far as the acting, singing and dancing performances at the premiere are concerned, it is very hard to evaluate any of them negatively. Svetlana Janotová appeared in the main role of Alex Owens at the premiere, and rightly became the star of the evening. She played Alex, who is resolute and forceful in everyday life but remains somewhat uncertain and fights with her self-distrust on her journey to fulfil her dream, as if it were a role written just for her. She confirmed that she really does have the singing and acting qualities she’d previously shown, and her dancing was also fantastic. She didn´t hesitate during a single scene, neither in the solo dance performances nor in the group choreographies in which she appeared with the whole company. Her transformation into dance-loving Alex Owens is amazing, and each of her movements as well as her overall expression simply radiated enthusiasm and energy.
As with Svetlana Janotová, Hana Holišová and Hana Kovaříková also excelled in the roles of the dancers, and their dance performances were one of the highlights of the evening.
Andrea Březinová and Aleš Slanina in the slightly tragicomic roles of Gloria, Alex´s best friend, and Jimmy, her boyfriend, were given more acting space then the previously mentioned actresses. Their Gloria and Jimmy are both as comic, kind and miserable as the given characters can be, and they performed flawlessly.
Zdena Herfortová, who played the character of Hana, an ageing dancer and Alex’s idiosyncratic advisor, was also given a larger amount of (mainly acting) space here. In the scenes together with her helper, caregiver Louisa (played by Miroslava Kolářová), there are also opportunities for sharp and cutting humour.
The largest male role, that of Nick Hurley, was played by Dušan Vitázek. As usual, there is nothing to complain about as far as his acting and singing performance is concerned. Zdeněk Junák played the role of Harry, the owner of a dance club where Alex and her friends perform, while the role of his competitor, the owner of the neighbouring striptease bar, was played by Igor Ondříček. Both actors got the maximum out of their roles, just as Jakub Zedníček did with the role of Alex´s colleague from the steelworks, Andy. Unfortunately Markéta Sedláčková in the role of Wilde, the secretary of the dance academy, and Jiří Mach as the boss of the steelworks, Joe, spend minimal time on stage.
As I have already suggested, the company plays quite a big role in the musical Flashdance. It has a great opportunity to shine mainly through dance, and it makes full use of this opportunity: the ballet soloists, the street and break dancers, the performances in the striptease bar and the scenes in the steelworks are all stunning.
As was mentioned above, Flashdance is about dance, it is based on a musical film about dance and it is strongest when it comes to the dance scenes. Despite this, the story about Alex’s journey to the fulfilment of her dream has no problems being attractive and provides an experience which is unique in the Czech Republic. It is an absolute flood of energy, the artists perform excellently and it is them, the excellent dancing and the catchy music which should mean Brno stage production will become not only an exceptional experience but also a smash hit with spectators that will remain on the repertoire for a long time.
It is definitely a successful show and Brno City Theatre has really hit the mark with this piece.
FLASHDANCE IN BRNO, OR HOW TO MAKE A GOOD MUSICAL FROM A KITSCH FILM
Vítězslav Sladký 6. October 2013 zdroj www.musical-opereta.cz
To be honest, I don´t even know if I have ever managed to watch this film till the end. There is too much kitsch romance there for me, and as I have already had cause to complain about the certain “American naivety” in the musical Footloose (produced by theatres in Pilsen and at Orlí) I was even more worried. However, the Brno City Theatre ensemble has surprised me again, and pleasantly... For a start, the show, which has so far been wandering around England and the American hinterland without receiving a proper world premiere, has been greatly enhanced by the authors Tom Hedley, Robert Cary and Robbie Roth, who have added as many as sixteen new songs to the world-famous film hits What a Feeling and Maniac. With this, they have completely changed the dynamics of the story, which was also improved by the incredible professionalism of Brno’s actors and dancers. I didn´t expect such a geyser of energy – I don´t know very many cases from musical history when a really good musical has been made from a kitsch film. Under Stanislav Moša´s direction and Igor Barberić´s choreography, the musical filled the stage with breathtakingly swift movement and song.
I´m in no way sorry that I didn´t attend the gala premiere of Flashdance in Brno but rather a repeat - the second one, in fact - partly because it allowed me to finally see a woman in action behind the conductor’s stand, which I hadn’t witnessed since the time when Miriam Němcová conducted operetta. If I´m not mistaken, Ema Mikešková is only our second professional conductor. The orchestra fully respected the young, elegant and energetic woman and played with concentration and dynamism, and it seemed to me perhaps also with joy, which they also managed to transfer to the stage.
The roles of the central couple were played by Ivana Vaňková (Alexandra Owens) and Ondřej Studénka (Nick Hurley), i.e. an experienced musical star at the peak of her artistic powers and a fresh graduate (from last year) in musical acting from the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts who is at the beginning of his theatre career. Vaňková´s performance was perfect as usual - she played the somewhat rough-edged worker brilliantly. Her hesitation and reserved attitude towards Nick at the beginning were realistic and surprisingly also believable, and her involvement in her dancing was stunning. Ondřej Studénka already has some student performances at the Theatre at Orlí under his belt as well as two roles in Cats (Brno City Theatre). His performance in Flashdance suggests that he has great potential to become an interesting reinforcement for the prestigious musical ensemble. His singing is certain, and his voice has an interesting, velvety timbre that sounds good in the not-so-easy tenor positions in the musical. Studénka´s Nick is manly and determined but in no way a typical ladykiller (this was probably also the directorial concept for the character), and he was more careful than expansive with his gestures. It isn’t, after all, so simple to play a “flawless charmer”... If the central story still seems somewhat naive to you despite everything, the idiosyncratic retired dance teacher played by great Olomouc actress Ivana Plíhalová brings things a bit more down-to-earth. Andrea Březinová plays the somewhat foolish dancer Gloria in a similarly irresistible fashion (a very interesting task after playing the completely opposite Wild Bára!) in a “young-and-comical” pair with the cutely stupid self-appointed comic Aleš Slanina (Jimmy). The only negative character in the play, the owner of a suspicious striptease bar, Johnny, was performed with enjoyment by Igor Ondříček, who is an ideal type for this role.
I don´t want to cover the same ground as our review by Peter Stoličný by naming all the characters or praising the excellently light-weight stage set by Christopher Weyers, Andrea Kučerová´s costumes or the painstaking work of choirmaster Karel Škarka, who has been building the ensemble systematically for many years. The dramaturges also perform similarly careful work in Brno (unfortunately, the majority of Prague’s theatres still consider this profession to be superfluous), and the musical was set on the road to success from the beginning by Jiří Josek’s great translation. Even though I personally prefer more dramatic musicals with some action in them such as Les Misérables, Evita, Sunset Boulevard and Elisabeth, I´m happy to admit that such an exclusively professional dance musical as that which Brno’s Flashdance has turned into definitely belongs on the stage. The audience has the right to experience a fairy-tale happy end sometimes!
WELDER ALEX DANCES LIKE MAD TILL SPARKS FLY
Lenka Suchá 3. October 2013 zdroj Brněnský deník
Brno City Theatre is the first theatre in Europe to perform the musical Flashdance. Svetlana Janotová starred in the main role at the premiere.
Exactly thirty years since the film version, the new musical version of Flashdance has appeared at the theatre for the first time. Hits like What a Feeling, Gloria and Maniac came to life at the Music Theatre in Brno, which performed the story of eighteen-year-old welder Alex as a European premiere. Brno’s ensemble under the leadership of Stanislav Moša did well as far as both acting and music is concerned, and the well executed design and choreography was also electrifying.
The authors have added sixteen new 1980s pop-style songs for the stage performance, the catchiest one being the duet Here and Now from a scene where Alex and Nick become closer to each other. Apart from these new numbers, five well-known songs from the film also appear in the musical, though often in circumstances that differ from those in the movie (Maniac, What a Feeling, Manhunt, Gloria, and I Love Rock and Roll). Spectators will experience them delivered by the Brno theatre’s excellent orchestra, and nothing prevents them from indulging in nostalgic memories. Lovers of the film will also enjoy many of the cult scenes, including the shower of water that pours onto Alex as she dances, or the moment when she takes off her bra under her typically baggy sweatshirt.
Hip-hop as well as ballet
The strongest point of the musical Flashdance is the dance numbers in which the choreographers Igor Barberić and Aneta Majerová have combined the elements of street dance and hip-hop, as well as classical ballet. The musical has a fast tempo, which is also thanks to the well executed scenography work by Christopher Weyers. He has managed to capture the atmosphere of industrial Pittsburgh so credibly that the introductory scene will give spectators pause to wonder for a while as to whether they really are still sitting in the theatre auditorium. Weyers has made use of all the available technical options the Music Theatre affords, and thanks to his clever work with allusive scenery elements, he alternates between the environments of a steelworks, a dance academy and night clubs with ease.
Lighting design is more significant than usual as a distinctive mood-forming element in the individual scenes, and complements the images from the huge factory hall as well as the quiet moments when love brings the characters together.
“She´s a maniac, maniac on the floor” – it’s the refrain of one of the main hits of the musical, Maniac, and it captures exactly what premiere actress Svetlana Janotová manages to project through the character of Alex. Infectious energy and determination radiates from every gesture, movement and expression she makes, and one cannot doubt her obsession with dance. Janotová has mastered the demanding role, dancing and singing with admirable bravura (Alex hardly leaves the stage and manages one change of clothes after another!). She confirmed that after her great efforts in previous musicals Spring Awakening, Chicago, Pope Joan, Blood Brothers and Zorro that this role has arrived for her at the right time.
The production of the musical Flashdance as a European premiere even before it’s shown on Broadway is an undeniable success for Brno City Theatre. Another goal the ensemble has chosen is based on a famous film. In the next season the Brno City Theatre want to hold musical The Ghost.
DANCING WELDER RISES TO THE TOP IN BRNO
Luboš Mareček 1. December -1 zdroj Lidové noviny
The musical Flashdance – i.e. the theatre version of a famous dance film from the 1980s – has just been shown as a European premiere at Brno City Theatre. To make things completely clear, the cult movie from 1983 already toured Great Britain in 2008, but the current, revised version of Flashdance just happens to be starting out on the European continent from Brno. With this premiere, Brno has also overtaken both the postponed Broadway show and a western European production of this piece from the Netherlands, which is also still only in the preparatory stage.
Kitsch hidden within an energetic show
The generation of people who are in their forties today may still clearly remember the story of charming eighteen-year-old Alex, who struts her stuff with a welding machine during the day and as a dancer in a bar at night. This is partly thanks to the shapely form of the film heroine, and also to the disco songs Maniac and What a Feeling, the second of which later even received an Oscar. Fortunately, the naïve love story of a poor girl and a socially-conscious factory owner’s son and the shallow dives into the desperate situation of steel workers in Pittsburgh are made attractive by the energetic production of this piece.
The great level of ambition and remarkable performances can be seen on many levels. This technically demanding musical will impress through its stage set, its sometimes almost obtrusive music as well as its musical direction, and also via its dynamic choreography and mainly the dancing and singing performances of the soloists.
Moša can create a great dynamic show without suppressing or being unwillingly ironic about the elements of the piece so typical of musicals such as romantic love or the victory of the heroine’s talent over the hard life allotted to her. And so it is that the sentimental or kitsch moments of Flashdance don’t stand out too much here and are accepted by the audience somewhat automatically, together with the bravura of the musical ensemble of Brno City Theatre.
Brno’s Flashdance will give theatregoers a great dance musical whose story lies closer to the family tree of Dirty Dancing than Billy Elliot. The authors wrote sixteen new songs for this piece, which are heard along with five original songs which appeared in the film. One can look forward to interesting music arrangements of Gloria and I Love Rock’n’roll. Scenographer Christopher Weyers has created what is almost a documentary report on the above-mentioned social topic of poorly paid workers using authentic elements from their environment. He has surrounded the huge auditorium with realistic iron ingots which statically frame the factory scenes and, in fact, one of the topics of the evening. Ivan Barberić and Aneta Majerová´s choreography utilizes the intoxicating retro feel of the dance styles of the contrived 1980s. It also includes classical dance, however, and isn´t afraid to use modern rap and hip hop elements or the dance-inspired street art of today´s metropolises in the crowd scenes featured in this thirty-year-old piece.
Svetlana Janotová rules the stage with a completely natural performance in the main role of Alex. Wearing a black curly wig, at one point splashed with a shower of water, cleverly taking off her bra under a baggy T-shirt – she is just like the film heroine. However, unlike in the film, nobody doubles for her in the demanding dancing scenes. The young actress hardly leaves the stage for three hours and her singing, acting and movement all deserve great praise: one can predict that more than one award will soon be winging her way. The heroine´s trio of friends, played by Hana Holišová, Hana Kováříková and Andrea Březinová, also demonstrate the same skills, albeit at a smaller scale; together they are responsible for a great many comic moments. The son of the factory owner, Nick, is played by Dušan Vitázek, an exemplary tenor and hero.
Brno’s musical Flashdance can be viewed as a dance fairy tale about Alex, a stubborn girl who engages in a romantic fight for independence, love and acceptance to the Pittsburgh dance conservatoire. Good triumphs over evil in fairy tales and in Brno, the production matter and the precision with which it has been machined triumph over the sentimental spirit of the piece.