Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou holding a whip and handcuffs?

Fifty ShadesBy Richard Ades

Given what they say about lightning striking twice, I had little reason to believe 50 Shades of Shadowbox would be as much fun as its 2015 predecessor.

That show, Sex at the Box, turned out to be my second-most-fun non-horizontal experience of the entire year. I knew it would be impossible to beat, but I hoped the new show would come close to matching its inspired lunacy.

Mostly, it doesn’t. But sometimes it does.

The skit that best reflects the show’s theme is 50 Shades of Romeo, in which star-crossed lovers Romeo (Robbie Nance) and Juliet (Amy Lay) find they share a penchant for kinky canoodling. Adding to the mock-Shakespearean atmosphere is the liberal use of Elizabethan suffixes (“musteth”).

Even funnier is The Ear Pod, featuring Tom Cardinal as a football fan who’s forced to miss the big game so he can attend couples counseling with his unhappy wife (Julie Klein). Miracle of miracles, it even has a punchline that’s both unexpected and amusing.

Maybe I’m being redundant there, as it’s hard for something to make us laugh if it isn’t unexpected. That’s the trouble with some of the evening’s weaker skits: They’re instantly predictable.

As soon as Kyle (JT Walker III) and his sexy girlfriend (Lay) walk into a room in The Jealous Boyfriend, it’s obvious she’s going to meet one ex-beau after another. It’s also obvious how Kyle will react, since the skit’s title gives it away.

Then there’s Spell Check, in which parents Katy Psenicka and Cardinal accuse their son of seeking out Internet porn. The punchline falls flat because it merely confirms what we knew all along.

The show gets off on the wrong foot with its first skit, Laid Off, about a boss (Klein) who decides to “fire” her lover (Cardinal) from the relationship. It’s disappointing because it tries to find laughs in heavy-handed double entendres rather than characterization or clever developments.

Thankfully, several of the other skits are more inventive, even if they aren’t absolute laugh riots. They include RiDickulous (about an app for girls deluged with photos of classmates’ not-so-private parts) and Sexy Nurse (about a hospital in which nurses dress just like they do in men’s lurid fantasies).

Also fairly amusing is Aw Fuk Me, about a 911 service for embarrassed victims of sexual shenanigans gone awry. However, at the performance I attended, it seemed to be cut short by a lighting miscue. It was a rare instance of imperfection for a troupe whose shows usually run like clockwork.

Shadowbox is such an expert at sketch humor that it’s likely director Stev Guyer and his cast will find ways to squeeze more humor out of the show as its run continues. But for now, the skits aren’t as reliably entertaining as the musical numbers.

The best cover songs include Bruno Mars’s Gorilla (sung by Noelle Grandison and Maurin Penn), Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing (sung by Grandison and Guillermo Jemmott) and Prince’s Little Red Corvette (sung by a very Prince-ly Walker).

Judiciously, Shadowbox saves the best for last: Meat Loaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light, with Kline and Lucas Tomasacci trading verses as the dueling leads. The show may not be epic, but it ends in a tunefully epic fashion.

50 Shades of Shadowbox continues through March 19 at Shadowbox Live, 503 S. Front St. Show times are 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes (including intermission). Tickets are $20-$40. 614-716-7625 or www.shadowboxlive.org.

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Will Richard III get into a turf battle with Tony Soprano?

Geoff Wilson (center) plays the conniving title character in Actors’ Theatre’s updated production of Richard III (Actors’ Theatre photo)
Geoff Wilson (center) plays the conniving title character in Actors’ Theatre’s updated production of Richard III (Actors’ Theatre photo)

By Richard Ades

When I heard Actors’ Theatre was going to turn Richard III into a 1950s American crime saga, my first thought was: How are they going to explain the title character’s best-known line: “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”

Are they going to pretend that 20th-century mobsters have traded their Cadillacs and Lincolns in for four-legged transportation?

As it turns out, the relocated Shakespearean drama runs into problems long before Richard utters the iconic lament. Thankfully, good acting helps to salvage the production, but not before viewers have spent much of the proceedings scratching their heads.

At first glance, it’s easy to see why director Jennifer Feather Youngblood decided to recast Richard and his followers as mobsters. In his attempt to satisfy his lust for power, he’s as ruthless and violent as any Mafia capo.

Unfortunately for Feather Youngblood and her cast, Shakespeare refuses to cooperate. His script is clearly about someone aspiring to be England’s king, not the head of some crime syndicate. The tale is so immersed in British history and geography that you quickly forget it’s been relocated to 20th-century America. It simply comes across as Shakespeare that’s being performed in relatively modern dress.

To make matters worse, viewers apparently aren’t the only ones who don’t buy the hop across the pond. Most of the cast doesn’t, either. Though a few of the smaller roles are played with Jersey accents, Geoff Wilson’s Richard and most of his cohorts and victims speak in standard Shakespearean English.

Complementing the inconsistent accents is the production’s inconsistent tone. Most of the play’s many murders are handled with appropriate solemnity, but one is as darkly comedic as if it had been directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Most inconsistent—and jarring—of all is the recorded music that accompanies each scene change. It seems to have little to do with what’s happening around it.

For example, after Richard sends a pair of assassins to dispatch his trusting brother Clarence (David Ailing), the air is suddenly filled with the strains of Jerry Lee Lewis’s Great Balls of Fire. If you’re like me, this will leave you with two responses: (1) “Oh, that’s right, this is supposed to be 1950s America” and (2) “Huh?” It’s hard to fathom why the rockabilly hit is being used to introduce an act of outright villainy.

One gets the feeling that Feather Youngblood envisioned an interpretation of Richard III that was much more sardonic—and, obviously, more American—than it ended up being. The result is that it comes across as a production with multiple, clashing personalities.

As I said, good acting helps to make the show entertaining despite its problems, particularly in Act 2. As for Act 1, I should mention that I didn’t see it at its best, as the performance I saw was plagued with annoying sound problems prior to intermission. But the script itself is also a problem early on: Shakespeare bombards us with so many historical characters and intrigues that we struggle to keep them all straight.

By Act 2, thanks to Richard’s murderous machinations, many of these characters have disappeared. This leaves us free to enjoy the rousing arguments and battles of those who remain.

Throughout, Wilson’s Richard is a powerhouse, exuding evil from every pore of his twisted frame. The rest of the cast also is consistently strong, even though it speaks with inconsistent accents.

Three actors are particularly notable as a trio of wronged women: Vicky Welsh Bragg as former Queen Margaret, Beth Josephsen as current Queen Elizabeth and Christina Yoho as Lady Anne. Male characters who stand out from the crowd include Ailing’s Clarence, Alexander Chilton’s Buckingham, Philip J. Hickman’s King Edward IV and Robert Philpott’s heroic Richmond. In a prominent smaller role, Jason Speicher is memorable as the goon-like Ratcliffe.

Maybe it’s because I share his name, but I have to point out that not everyone believes the actual Richard III was as evil as the Bard portrays him. Nevertheless, he makes a great villain. Even though you almost need a degree in English history to understand his world—and even though Actors’ Theatre further complicates matters by pretending he’s an American gangster—it’s fun to watch him connive his way to the throne.

Especially since you know he’ll eventually have that problem with the horse.

Actors’ Theatre of Columbus will present Richard III through Aug. 2 at the Schiller Park amphitheater, 1069 Jaeger St., Columbus. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Running time: 2 hours, 35 minutes (including intermission). Tickets: pay what you will (donations accepted at intermission). Bring a blanket or lawn chair. 614-444-6888 or theactorstheatre.org.

2014: A brilliant ‘Hamlet’ and a sad departure

Grace Bolander plays the title role in Actors' Theatre's production of Hamlet (photo by Richard Ades)
Grace Bolander plays the title role in Actors’ Theatre’s production of Hamlet (photo by Richard Ades)

By Richard Ades

Two of the most memorable theatrical events of 2014 took place in Schiller Park.

The first was Actors’ Theatre’s production of Hamlet. Though it garnered the most attention for its offbeat casting of a teenage girl in the title role, what really set the show apart was its overall quality. Every role—from the Danish prince to the lowly gravedigger—was cast and performed to perfection.

The second event was the May 30 memorial for actor Carl Novak, who died unexpectedly last spring. I first met Carl several years ago when he approached me during intermission at a local show and said some nice things about my reviews—frank but fair, something along that line. I didn’t yet know who he was other than a familiar face at opening nights, but I appreciated the supportive words.

It was only after Carl’s death that I learned he’d said equally supportive things to many people. On Facebook and at the memorial service, people described him as a man who went out of his way to make others feel important and appreciated.

Though I don’t share the strong Christian faith that guided Carl, it’s hard for me to think of him without recalling words from the New Testament: “Go and do likewise.” What a world it would be if we all followed his example.

Back to business: This being the end of the year, it’s time for me to share my list of the best theatrical performances and productions I saw in 2014. Notice the “I saw.” No one has time to see everything, and I almost certainly missed many worthy contenders.

Thanks to everyone who made 2014 a good year to go to the theater.

Best Play: Hamlet, Actors’ Theatre. Co-directors John S. Kuhn and Nick Baldasare coaxed incisive performances from the entire cast, starting with Grace Bolander, the high school senior who gave such a brilliant interpretation of the title prince. Runner-up: How We Got On, Available Light Theatre.

Best Musical: The Producers, Gallery Players. Director Mark Mann and his crew paid amazing attention to detail while creating a tuneful show with many laugh-out-loud moments. The entire cast performed with spirit, but special commendations are due to supporting actors Doug Joseph (as Roger De Bris, alternating with Stewart Bender) and Brooke Walters (as Swedish secretary Ulla). Runner-up: Always…Patsy Cline, CATCO.

Best New Work: Memory Fragments, MadLab. Sam Wallin’s “cyberpunk” mystery constantly shifted between the present and the past, and between physical and virtual reality, but director Andy Batt handled the changes with aplomb. Runner-up: Gallery of Echoes, Shadowbox Live.

Best Revised Work: Evo, Shadowbox Live. Stev Guyer’s Evolution was an ambitious but plodding work from the troupe’s early days. The new version, which Guyer revised with help from head writer Jimmy Mak, musical director Matthew Hahn and choreographer Katy Psenicka, was just an ambitious but far more watchable.

Best Touring Show: The Book of Mormon, Broadway in Columbus. Only a poor sod with maggots in his scrotum could fail to enjoy this raunchy but warmhearted satire.

Worst Trend: musicals with canned accompaniment. CATCO’s production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels handled the prerecorded soundtrack pretty well, but taped music drained much of the life out of SRO’s The Sound of Music. Besides, musicians need the work!

Best Direction: Hamlet, John S. Kuhn and Nick Baldasare, Actors’ Theatre. Every role was handled with such clarity that even Shakespeare buffs probably gained new appreciation of the venerable tragedy.

Best Performance, Male: Isaac Nippert, My Name Is Asher Lev, CATCO/Gallery Players. As Asher, Nippert expertly navigated a role that required him to narrate his own tale while playing himself at ages ranging from youngster to adult.

Best Performance, Female: Grace Bolander, Hamlet, Actors’ Theatre. Casting a teenage girl as the melancholy Dane might seem like a gimmick, but Bolander gave an impassioned yet witty performance that proved she was simply the best person for the part.

Recorded memories prove invaluable in dystopian murder mystery

Sharing a rare moment of peace and happiness are (from left) Cloud (Stephen Woosley), Meryl (Katharine Pilcher), Charlotte (Colleen Dunne) and Mordecai (Travis Horseman) in the world premiere of Memory Fragments (photo by Andy Batt)
Sharing a rare moment of peace and happiness are (from left) Cloud (Stephen Woosley), Meryl (Katharine Pilcher), Charlotte (Colleen Dunne) and Mordecai (Travis Horseman) in the world premiere of Memory Fragments (photo by Andy Batt)

By Richard Ades

Following the world premiere of Memory Fragments last week, playwright Sam Wallin described the mystery as an example of “cyberpunk.” He explained that this is a form of science fiction that mixes a futuristic setting with elements of film noir.

Well, it’s definitely science fiction, and it’s definitely set in the future. The film-noir part isn’t quite so obvious. The scene breaks are accompanied by the kind of jazzy noodlings that would have made Sam Spade feel right at home, but the scenes themselves fail to capture the dark moodiness that characterized Spade’s world.

No matter. Memory Fragments may not be noir-ish, but it’s never boorish. As long as you don’t mind being confused for much of the running time, it’s an intriguing murder mystery.

The hero is a police detective named Cloud (Stephen Woosley) who’s assigned to investigate the death of a barista named Mordecai (Travis Horseman). Cloud’s first job is to determine whether the man was murdered or committed suicide.

In this version of the near future, people’s memories are recorded and stored so that they can be played back as needed. Ordinarily, this makes Cloud’s job pretty easy. In Mordecai’s case, however, the fatal wound destroyed all but 17 fragments of the victim’s memory. Along with Jerome (Andy Woodmansee), an annoying stranger who inserts himself into the investigation, Cloud begins watching the fragments in hopes of solving the case.

It’s through the recorded memories that we meet a number of people who played a role in Mordecai’s final days, including a new girlfriend (Colleen Dunne), a male psychiatrist (Andy Batt), a lascivious female psychiatrist (Laura Spires) and a mysterious man in a brown suit (Erik Sternberger). Cloud attempts to sift through the clues with help from his late wife, Meryl (Katharine Pilcher), whom he frequently resurrects in the virtual world where he spends most of his time.

Eventually, the mystery of Mordecai’s death is solved, but not until more people have died—and not until Cloud has followed the evidence to the upper echelons of the two huge corporations that control this future society.

Speaking after Thursday’s preview performance, Wallin and director Batt revealed that MadLab spent two years planning the play’s premiere. Part of the delay was due to the problem of portraying the work’s frequent shifts between the present and the past, and between physical reality and virtual reality.

With help from designers Brenda Michna (scenery and lighting) and Peter Graybeal (sound), Batt’s production succeeds admirably. Especially effective are the gauzy curtains that separate the present from the past, as represented by the recorded memories.

Also admirable is the large cast, which also includes Julie Ferreri and MaryBeth Griffith. The portrayals are rooted in emotional reality, which helps to ground a play that otherwise could disintegrate into a confusing mixture of sci-fi jargon and dystopian paranoia.

To be sure, Memory Fragments still challenges viewers to keep up, but MadLab keeps them so entertained that they’re happy to make the effort.

Memory Fragments will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday through Nov. 1 at MadLab Theatre and Gallery, 227 N. Third St. Running time: 2 hours (including intermission). Tickets are $12, $10 for students/seniors, $8 for members. 614-221-5418 or madlab.net.

Stranded seafarer lives to tell his tale

Lisa Thoma, Robert Behrens and Joe Dallacqua (clockwise from top) perform in CATCO’s production of Shipwrecked! An Entertainment – The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself) (photo by Dave Alkire)
Lisa Thoma, Robert Behrens and Joe Dallacqua (clockwise from top) perform in CATCO’s production of Shipwrecked! An Entertainment – The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself) (photo by Dave Alkire)

By Richard Ades

Louis de Rougemont had quite an adventure, and he desperately wants to tell us about it. With a combination of narration, acting, shadow figures and sound effects, the 19th century Londoner explains how he left home as a youth and went to sea, only to be shipwrecked and stranded for years on a desert island.

A giant octopus, a rare black pearl and a tribe of Australian Aborigines also figure in his tale, which unfolds in Donald Margulies’s Shipwrecked! An Entertainment—The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself).

When I first saw the play in a 2010 Whistling in the Dark production, I thought it was a bit long-winded, but I enjoyed the way it captured the spirit of its real-life adventurer’s times. Because it was presented in a theater that was designed to be environmentally friendly, the production took a low-tech approach that added to the period feel. The live piano accompaniment was particularly effective.

CATCO’s current production, directed by Mark Seamon, is less low-tech and, thus, seems less authentic. Moreover, Seamon and company punctuate the story with goofy sound effects (a slide whistle and the like) that probably are designed to tickle younger viewers. Well, maybe they do, but they detract from the show’s credibility. De Rougemont clearly wants us to amaze us, not amuse us.

Beyond those quibbles, the show has much to recommend it. Shakespearean actor/director Robert Behrens makes a rare stage appearance as the title adventurer, and he gives an entertaining performance. Enthusiastic supporting actors Lisa Thoma and Joe Dallacqua play all the characters de Rougemont comes into contact with, especially a friendly Aborigine woman (Thoma) and an even friendlier dog (Dallacqua).

Even before the action starts, Michael S. Brewer’s handsome set is sure to elicit a few “oohs” and “aahs.” The broad-beamed stage floor is a good stand-in for the ship deck on which the young de Rougemont begins his adventures.

Yes, the play still seems a bit long-winded (I’ve heard of other productions that wrapped things up in less than 90 minutes, though I can’t imagine how). But the tale it tells is a fascinating one, made even more so by the fact that we’re not entirely sure we should believe it.

CATCO will present Shipwrecked! An Entertainment—The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself) through Feb. 23 in Studio Two, Riffe Center, 77 S. High St. Show times are 11 a.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes. Tickets are $11.50 for Wednesday matinees, $45 on Fridays and Saturdays, $41 for other shows. Discount student tickets ($15) are offered two hours before show time. 614-469-0939 or catco.org.

A look back at ‘2013: The Musical’

Japheal Bondurant as competitor William Barfee in CATCO's production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Red Generation Photography)
Japheal Bondurant as competitor William Barfee in CATCO’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Red Generation Photography)

By Richard Ades

2013 may be remembered as The Year of the Musical in Central Ohio. Or, more likely, as The First Year of the Musical.

In the more than two decades I’ve been reviewing local theater, musicals have always represented a small percentage of the shows I saw each year. But that’s likely to change.

A prime reason is that CATCO dropped its long aversion to the genre when Steven Anderson took over as producing director in 2010. Another reason is the ascendance of Short North Stage, a 2-year-old troupe that specializes in Sondheim’s art form.

Add to that the musicals staged by Otterbein University Theatre and the growing number staged by Shadowbox Live, including its recent collaborations with Opera Columbus. Then figure in the musicals bravely tackled by troupes that normally stick to standard fare.

The end result is a year that was teeming with musicals. And not just musicals: great musicals.

There were so many worthwhile musicals, in fact, that I’ve been forced to abandon the format I always followed at The Other Paper, which divided the nominees into categories such as Best Drama or Best Comedy. Limiting myself to one Best Musical would have forced me to ignore many of the year’s best shows. Instead, I’ve settled for naming the year’s Top 10 shows.

A couple of caveats: First, no one has time to see everything, so I’m sure I missed some award-worthy gems. And second, this is a subjective list based not only on what was done well but on what I found particularly interesting and memorable.

With that said, congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone who made this an exceptional year for theater in Central Ohio.

Top 10 Shows of 2013:

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, CATCO. Though the Top 10 list is mostly arranged haphazardly, this was my favorite show of the year. Director Steven Anderson found both the heart and the laughs in this familiar musical, with help from a consistently wonderful cast led by Japheal Bondurant, Elisabeth Zimmerman and Ralph E. Scott.

Sunday in the Park With George, Short North Stage. The Garden Theater-based troupe sometimes imports its directors from New York, and it paid off handsomely here. Sarna Lapine (niece of James Lapine, who wrote the book and directed the Broadway premiere) gave us a Sondheim revival that was both pitch-perfect and picture-perfect. As a bonus, sound designer Leon Rothenberg found a way to tame the theater’s echo-y acoustics, which bodes well for future productions.

Passing Strange, Short North Stage. Green Day fans undoubtedly enjoyed the punk-rock anger of American Idiot, which came through town in March. But those of a thoughtful bent were more likely to enjoy this satirical take on youthful angst, which was beautifully realized by director Mark Clayton Southers and his committed cast.

Duck Variations, A Portable Theatre. The best news was that the fledgling troupe is the new home of Geoffrey Nelson, former artistic director of CATCO. The second-best news was that its premiere show paired Nelson with fellow CATCO alum Jonathan Putnam. These two sly and seasoned pros made the David Mamet comedy one of the year’s funniest shows.

Assassins, Red Herring Productions. Michael Herring’s solo springtime performance of Krapp’s Last Tape launched the rebirth of his long-dormant troupe. But nothing could have prepared us for Red Herring’s next show, a polished production of Sondheim’s most controversial musical. John Dranschak directed an A-list cast led by Ian Short and Nick Lingnofski.

Mercy Killers, On the Verge Productions. 2013’s crop of touring musicals supplied a fair amount of flashy entertainment, but none of them were as impressive or thought-provoking as this one-man touring show. Writer/actor Michael Milligan told a tragic tale that movingly dramatized the shortcomings of the U.S. health-care system.

The Whipping Man, Gallery Players/New Players Theater. If you thought there was no way to come up with a new take on the Civil War, this show proved you wrong. Matthew Lopez’s postwar drama reunited two former slaves with the wounded son of their Jewish master. The fascinating, if imperfect, tale was exquisitely directed by Tim Browning.

The Air Loom, MadLab. Local actor Jim Azelvandre has tried his hand at writing in the past, but this surreal tale is his best work to date. Azelvandre also supplied the canny direction, which ensured that the ingenious storyline and eccentric characters remained entertaining throughout.

Henry IV, Part One, New Players Theater. Besides staging The Taming of the Shrew on its outdoor stage, New Players was brave enough to tackle one of Shakespeare’s seldom-seen historical dramas. Bard-literate director Robert Behrens made 15th-century Britain come to life with the help of a lively cast led by David Tull as the hard-partying Prince Hal and John Tener as the irrepressible Falstaff.

Burlesque Behind the Curtain, Shadowbox Live. Shadowbox’s production of Spamalot was a blast, too, but Behind the Curtain deserves credit for improving on last year’s Burlesque de Voyage. Writer Jimmy Mak, director Stev Guyer and the talented players created a show that was sometimes very sexy and other times very, very funny.

New York-bound ‘Flashdance’ faces an uphill battle

Steelworker/dancer Alex Owens (Jillian Mueller) re-creates an iconic moment from the original movie in Flashdance: The Musical (photo by Jeremy Daniel)
Steelworker/dancer Alex Owens (Jillian Mueller) re-creates an iconic moment from the original movie in Flashdance: The Musical (photo by Jeremy Daniel)

By Richard Ades

“She’s a maniac, maniac on the floor/And she’s dancing like she never danced before…”

Read those lyrics the wrong way, and the fantasy at the heart of Flashdance becomes apparent. Steelworker-by-day/dancer-by-night Alex longs to be accepted into a prestigious ballet academy, but she has no formal training. So how can she hope to win out against dancers who’ve been hitting the barre since they were kids?

The 1983 movie distracted attention from that glaring question by overwhelming us with montages of toned bodies dancing to a rocking soundtrack. It also captured the tenor of the times by setting Alex’s quest against the backdrop of a dying industry: We could relate to her struggle to redefine herself because so many of us were trying to find a way to survive in a changing economy.

Then, of course, there was cinematic newcomer Jennifer Beals and her portrayal of Alex as a tough Pittsburgh girl who could switch from wistful dreamer to sexual predator at the drop of a leg warmer.

So the movie became a hit, and Alex and her wardrobe became cultural icons. Can the new Tom Hedley/Robert Cary/Robbie Roth stage version repeat the magic?

After seeing the touring show Tuesday night at the Palace, I suspect it has a long way to go.

Director/choreographer Trujillo and his cast reimagine some of the movie’s best moments and add some of their own. Overall, though, it fails to make us care about Alex’s journey.

Part of the problem is the role of Alex, which must be almost impossible to cast. Besides acting and singing, the leading lady must be able to dance well enough to convince us she has a shot at a career in ballet. In the touring production, it’s apparent that Jillian Mueller was cast primarily for her dancing skills. Her moves are fine, but her singing voice lacks power and she has little stage presence.

It’s admirable that the producers didn’t follow the movie’s tack and have Alex’s dance moves performed by a body double (though it appears they do just that in one scene, for no apparent reason). But because they failed to find the rare individual who can act, sing and dance like a maniac, Alex mostly disappears into Klara Zieglerova’s serviceable but generic scenery. As a result, few sparks are generated by the central romance between Alex and her smitten boss, Nick, even though Corey Mach gives the latter a likable personality and sonorous voice.

Filling some of that void, Ginna Claire Mason and David R. Gordon do make us care about the rocky relationship between Alex’s dancer friend Gloria and would-be comedian Jimmy. We particularly care about Gloria, whose naïve search for fame makes her susceptible to the advances of C.C. (Christian Whelan), proprietor of the disreputable dance club down the street. Her crestfallen rendition of Gloria is one of the more effective holdovers from the movie.

Back at the raunchy but relatively wholesome club run by the fatherly Harry (Matthew Henerson), Alex spends her nights sharing the stage with Tess and Kiki, seasoned hoofers well played by Alison Ewing and DeQuina Moore. Moore is especially fiery in the energetically choreographed Manhunt, another movie holdover.

Not all of the show’s songs are inherited from the movie, by the way. Of the new tunes, some are pretty, and some are even catchy, but none matches the toe-tapping power of the originals.

Will Flashdance make it to New York? If it does, it will accomplish a major miracle, as it’s not easy to construct a conventional stage musical out of a movie that was basically an extended music video. The show reportedly has been tweaked quite a bit to get this far, and it likely will need a lot more tweaking to get to Broadway.

Broadway in Columbus and CAPA will present Flashdance: The Musical through Dec. 22 at the Palace Theatre, 34 W. Broad St. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $28-$78. 614-469-0939, 1-800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.