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Apr 17, 2014

Lead in "Flashdance" says role is most difficult of her career

April 17, 2014

Greenville Journal, Cindy Landrum - April 17, 2014

Musical stays faithful to blockbuster 1983 film

When Sydney Morton watched the 1983 movie "Flashdance" as a little girl, she identified with Jennifer Beal's character as she danced to the song "Maniac."

"I felt like she was the grown-up version of me," Morton said in a telephone interview. "I had dreams of becoming a dancer too."

Now, Morton is playing the lead role in "Flashdance: The Musical," which begins in a weeklong run at the Peace Center on Tuesday. 

"Flashdance" tells the story of Alex Owens, a Pittsburgh steelworker by day and bar dancer by night who yearns to become a professional dancer. 

"It's the most challenging role I've ever done," said Morton, whose Broadway credits include "Motown," "Evita," "Memphis" and the Chicago company of "Jersey Boys." "It's up there with one of the most physically demanding roles on Broadway."

Morton grew up in a family of musicians, including a grandfather who performed on Broadway. She earned a musical theater degree from the University of Michigan and then moved to New York. 

"Alex is an ideal character for me. My first love is ballet," said Morton, who had a role in NBC's recent live production of "The Sound of Music." "I think the role is an amazing culmination of all my training. It hits all of the skill sets - singing, acting, and dancing."

Morton said although she didn't work in a steel mill like the lead character, she can relate to the struggles to get to where she wanted to be. 

"Nothing has come easy. Like Alex, there have been times when I felt like an underdog." she said. "I think it's good to have struggles. It gives you more motivation to achieve your goals and more appreciation when you do have success."

Morton calls "Flashdance" a modern-day fairy tale. 

It's the story of a girl who gets to strive for her dream, and she falls in love along the way," she said.

The musical is true to the story of the film, although it has been fleshed out some, especially when it comes to the supporting characters, she said. The musical includes new songs, too.

"There's a character in there for everybody," she said. "I think the audience is getting both their nostalgic fix and something new. Even for the die-hard 'Flashdance' fan, there's a fun element to the show you haven't seen."


Where: The Peace Center for the Performing Arts, 300 S. Main St., Greenville

When: April 22, 23, and 24, 7:30 p.m.; April 25 and 26, 8 p.m.; April 26, 2 p.m.; April 27, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Tickets: $45 to $75

Info: peacecenter.org or 864.467.3000

Advisory: "Flashdance" is PG-13 and is suggested appropriate for ages 13 and up.