Five 1980s Dance Movies That Need Musical Versions

Beginning next week, Theatre Under the Stars is bringing the 1980s classic dance film Flashdance to the stage. The movie is about a wannabe ballerina who cuts her chops as an exotic dancer by night and works as a welder by day. Despite that seeming like an unrealistic lifestyle, it is based on a true story. The movie was a huge hit and is mostly remembered by its star Jennifer Beals dancing around angrily in a cut-off sweatshirt. The musical version of the movie opened in London in 2008 and its U.S. tour kicked off this year.

My first reaction to this musical was disappointment; I hate musical versions of movies that are already more or less musical versions of themselves. But in Flashdance's defense, it does lend itself perfectly to a Broadway musical rendition. The music is super theatrical; "What a Feeling" might as well be "I Dreamed a Dream" but with better hair. And if there is water flowing onto the stage while the Alex character dances through it, I'm in.

Movies and musicals have been combining a lot lately, and the 1980s had a number of music-based movies that should just suck it up and become stage productions.

5. Girls Just Want to Have Fun Cyndi Lauper is all up in the musical business lately with her big hit Kinky Boots, and the movie version of her song, which if I am recalling correctly did not even have the original song in it, would be a perfect next move for her. The movie is about a dance television competition in which a very young Helen Hunt wears crazy outfits. Mostly there is arguing and strict parents and no one seems to be having all that much fun, per say, but there are some serious dance scenes involving identical twins that would be amazing on stage.

4. Breakin' I don't know how popular this movie was when it came out; it wasn't very good, that's for sure. But the break dancing in it is amazing and breaking dancing has been gaining back some popularity with all of these various dance shows out there where people do dancing or whatever they do on those shows. And the Chaka Khan "Ain't Nobody" scene needs to be recreated over and over in all of its awful montage-like glory, but in front of a live audience.

3. Staying Alive I am honestly surprised that they haven't made Saturday Night Fever into a musical yet but perhaps it's for the best. Too much disco can get painful night after night; believe me, I know about this. Staying Alive, which was the sequel to Saturday Night Fever, is about a dancer getting on Broadway, and there's nothing Broadway shows like better than making Broadway shows about Broadway shows. And it's not to be ironic and all meta either, it's because they think it's terribly clever of them (see: Chorus Line, Gypsy, Spamalot, A Broadway Musical). It also has plenty of Bee Gees for all you fans out there but sprinkled with enough bad '80s music to get your fill.

2. FameWasn't your high school just like this? Is this not a Broadway musical yet? How is that even possible? I Googled every possible combination of "Fame" and "Musical" that I could and I couldn't find it anywhere.

Dear People Who Make Musicals Out of Movies: You opted for Ghost as a musical and no one thought Fame was a good idea? Let's all put down our fruity cocktails and pull our fake eyelashes out already and turn this movie into a musical. It writes itself; rather, it already wrote itself as a musical.

1. Showgirls This is not a 1980s movie, I am aware of that fact. However, there are fewer movies that I can think of that involve "dancing" that would make for better stage adaptations than the supremely bizarre and wonderful irreverent Showgirls. I'm sure that the pool sex scene would have to be cleaned up a bit, but not as much as you would think, I'm guessing. And there is so much annoyed-faced dancing in this film, and the theater loves over-exaggerated facial expressions. How could this film not work on stage?

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig