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'Flashdance: The Musical' review: Ralph Macchio's daughter Julia a spitfire in nostalgic LI production

Julia Macchio stars as a welder by day,

Julia Macchio stars as a welder by day, dancer by night in "Flashdance," a stage version of the 1983 movie that co-stars Anthony Crouchelli. Photo Credit: Jeff Bellante

WHAT "Flashdance: The Musical"

WHEN | WHERE Through Sept. 15, Patchogue Theatre, 71 E. Main St.

INFO From $49; 631-286-1133,  thegateway.org

BOTTOM LINE An entertaining flashback to the music and dance of the 1980s.

Sometimes you just have to wait for it.

The best moments of "Flashdance: The Musical," now at the Patchogue Theatre in a Gateway production, came after the curtain call. That's when the cast, freed from the constraints of the blue-collar Cinderella story of the spunky welder with big dance dreams, let loose with a hit reel of the best numbers from the 1983 film. Songs like "Maniac," "Gloria" and "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" got the audience on their feet and dancing along (welcome relief after the overly long, two-and-a-half-hour performance).  

Not that the songs weren't done in the show, but somehow they got lost in the muddle of new music by Robbie Roth and Robert Cary. The duo was responsible for too many less than memorable tunes that were probably the main reason (along with a couple of distracting plotlines) that this musical — even with a couple of national and international tours — never made it to Broadway.  

Despite unforgivable sound problems the night I attended, the enthusiastic Gateway cast worked it to the max, delivering an entertaining and nostalgic evening for those in the audience who grew up on that music. It was a homecoming of sorts for Julia Macchio, the Long Island-born Hofstra grad and daughter of "The Karate Kid" Ralph Macchio, who was beaming in the audience on opening night. Her Alex was a veritable spitfire — the tough cookie Pittsburgh steelworker and exotic dancer with her sights set on bigger stages than the one at Harry's Bar. A serviceable singer, Macchio came to life in the dance sequences, especially the final iconic audition scene (for which film star Jennifer Beals required three dance doubles).

Anthony Crouchelli played her love interest Nick, son of the mill owner, with plenty of charm and a touch of grit as he tried to fight job reductions at the plant. Other highlights included Steve Greenstein as the gruff but softhearted club owner Harry, Chris Collins-Pisano as the wannabe comedian Jimmy, and Diane J. Findlay as Alex' empowering mentor Hannah.

In the end, though, "Flashdance" is a flashback to the music and dancing of the 1980s, so it was left to Amanda Tong, Laquet Sharnell Pringle and Danielle Marie Gonzalez as Alex's friends and fellow dancers, to really get the message across. The trio, a Greek chorus in feathers and spangles, danced up a storm (and got all the good songs), reveling in director-choreographer Keith Andrews' energetic numbers covering everything from borderline striptease to jazz to break-dancing. To paraphrase the song "Maniac," "they were dancing like they've never danced before."

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