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From screen to stage- 'Flashdance' comes to Milwaukee

Sydney Morton as Alex Owens in Flashdance The Musica
Sydney Morton as Alex Owens in Flashdance The Musica
Denise Truscello

Thirty years ago, the classic film "Flashdance" made its debut, enthralling viewers across the globe. In celebration of this anniversary, the musical theater adaptation of the film is touring nationwide and will run at the Milwaukee Marcus Center March 4-9. Friday evening, Feb. 21, Sydney Morton took the time to share her thoughts on the production and what it's like to play the leading role of Alex Owens.

Morton grew up from a family of musicians, including a grandfather on Broadway, so singing and dancing was second nature for her. After earning a musical theater degree from the University of Michigan, she moved to New York and now finds herself in the ideal role for a musical theater dancer.

"Flashdance" is the story of Alex Owens, a woman who comes from a hard background and moves to Pittsburgh at the suggestion of her dancer mentor. As a result, she becomes enthralled with ballet and attempts to overcome any obstacles and insecurities she may have in order to shine at the ballet school and make the transition from a steel mill worker to a ballerina.

When reflecting on the role of Alex, Morton says,

This one is truly a triple threat kind of role meaning you really have to be able to sing, dance and act. Ninety percent of the plot line rests on Alex's shoulders and obviously dancing is a huge part of it so just the stamina of this role is unique and she's not a princess. She's not a stereotypically pretty or dainty or feminine ingenue type role but she's got a lot of grit to her and she's very independent and speaks her mind and she's not the only leading lady type character to do that but it's still pretty rare actually to find a character like that.

To be fortunate enough to portray a well-rounded, strong character like that is quite the opportunity in musical theater, especially for a dancer. Morton elaborates saying,

This is a unique character and it's kind of a dream role if you're a dancer and you have dealt with any kind of opposition or felt like you couldn't make it for whatever reason and I think dance is inherently difficult so we've all dealt with that at one point. I definitely identify with this character so it's like getting to tell a dancer's story and we don't really get to do that very often….but this feels like I was kind of destined to play the role at some point. It's really exciting to play a role that you've always dreamt of playing.

While this role is ideal for a dancer, it also involves a great deal of stamina that Morton admits even challenges her after over two decades of dance experience. But dancing aside, this production is ideal for a range of audiences as it tells a kind of Cinderella story and, as Morton says, "there's a character in there for everybody" and it flushes out many of the characters in a way it can't in the film.

There's more of everything, and we get to sing too! We have all the songs that you would know from the movie and then we have all these other songs to express how the characters are feeling and enhance the plot so there original songs in addition to the ones you know.

"Flashdance" runs at the Marcus Center from March 4-9 and tickets are available online or by calling 414-273-7206. For more information, please visit http://www.marcuscenter.org/show/flashdance-the-musical/.

Dance really is a way to express ourselves. It becomes a safe haven, it's almost like a form a therapy for a lot of us and that's a profound thing. It's so amazing and fun and you can't help it, it's infectious, so I hope that people leave this show wanting to dance or having a newfound appreciation for dance.