Flashdance

Flashdance: she's a maniac. (Image courtesy The Bushnell / October 9, 2013)

Hartford's Bushnell commonly gets to host the first national tours of recent Broadway hit musicals. Occasionally, it gets visited by shows that tour before they get to Broadway.

Flashdance the Musical has a built-in national audience, made up not just of people who enjoyed the Jennifer Beals film 30 (!) years ago but of those who've been exposed to a steady stream of stage musicals based on late-20th century dance-pop movies: Footloose, Saturday Night Fever, Fame the Musical, Xanadu... not to mention a new Dirty Dancing stage musical which opened last month in London.

Flashdance the Musical was also first staged in England (where they just love contemporary pop-song scores) in 2008. It's expected to eventually come to New York. Reviews of the show have noted that most of the movie's most arresting visual images have made it into Flashdance's stage version, however difficult it may be to pull that off. Remember, this is a film where the locales changed from construction sites to loft apartments to an "exotic dancing" club to a ballet school.

Lou Harry of the Indianapolis Business Journal had this to say when Flashdance played Indiana just last week: "the new tunes don't represent much of a qualitative drop-off from the show's '80s hits ("Maniac," "Gloria," "What a Feeling," etc.). The scenic design — set pieces combined with projections and dramatic lighting — effectively keep the action moving. The writers saddled with the adaptation assignment wisely opted for sincerity over kitsch. And the dancing is energetic if not inspired."

Flashdance the Musical, starring Jillian Mueller as the free-spirited flashdancer Alex, plays the Bushnell (166 Capitol Ave., Hartford; bushnell.org/) Oct. 15-20. Tickets range from $22-$85.

In other theater news, the Goodspeed Opera House has announced its 2014 season: the new "Red Sox version" of the baseball musical Damn Yankees (April 11 through June 21), Fiddler on the Roof (June 27 through Sept. 7) and a new stage version of the Irving Berlin-scored film Holiday Inn (Sept. 19-Nov. 30). The final show of Goodspeed Opera House' 2013 season has just opened: The Most Happy Fella, running through Dec. 1.