Julia Macchio Shines in Gateway’s “Flashdance: The Musical”

Julia Macchio as Alex Owens, Photo: Jeff Bellante
Julia Macchio as Alex Owens, Photo: Jeff Bellante

Oh, what a feeling! Ending their summer 2018 season with a show that will tug at your heartstrings, The Gateway brings the electrifying and compelling story of Flashdance: The Musical to the beautifully renovated Patchogue Theatre. This musical is full of big dreams, big talent and big ballads from the ’80s that will spark that nostalgic feeling and have you bopping your head and singing along with the company.

Long Island native Julia Macchio—and daughter of the karate kid himself, Ralph Macchio—headlines the production as Alexandra “Alex” Owens, a young steelworker who doubles at night as a singer/dancer at a club. Macchio is no stranger to her wide-eyed, big-haired character, having performed around the world as Alex in the International Tour of the show.

There are so many moments during the show where you find yourself lost in the spellbinding music, especially the slower arrangement of the hit song “Gloria.” The song fits the story so well, yet it doesn’t lose the flavor of the original. Amanda Tong as the flighty Gloria is everything you want her to be—sweet natured, a little ditzy, but a loyal and loving friend—with that ’80s hair, teased and topped with a gaudy headband. Gloria sings her namesake song as her own ballad, softly at first and rising to a crescendo as the show progresses and she finds herself in a bad situation.

The central focus of this production is dance. Macchio brings a level of talent and poise to her character, and it truly seems as if this role was made for her. At heart a professional dancer, the passion for dance began early for this young starlet, right here at the Long Island Academy of Dance. A Hofstra University graduate, Macchio has performed on some of the most iconic stages in the world, including a stint in the Radio City Spring Spectacular Workshop.

Julia Macchio and Anthony Crouchelli, Photo: Jeff Bellante Flashdance Gateway
Julia Macchio and Anthony Crouchelli, Photo: Jeff Bellante

In the show, Alex’s dream of attending a prestigious dance school in Pittsburgh is the grand prize, but she suffers from self-doubt—though when she takes the stage to dance she is mesmerizing. Alex catches the eye of Nick Hurley, whose wealthy family owns the steel mill Alex is apprenticing at. Alex rejects Nick vehemently at first, but this story would not be complete without a case of star-crossed lovers. Anthony Crouchelli as Nick is humble, caring and kind—not at all what Alex expected of this privileged man. Crouchelli as Nick is endearing, charming and attentive to Alex, and she basks in his love and warmth. The chemistry between the pair is delightful and passionate, and you can’t help but root for this young couple.

The iconic “Maniac” song and its fast-paced, mind-boggling dance moves seem almost effortless to Macchio, who moves with the kind of easy grace that speaks to her many hours working on her craft. Gateway is always on point with their talent choices, but they hit it out of the park with casting Macchio as their lead. As Alex, she is so believable, so real it is awe-inspiring.

The entire cast is immensely talented and Alex’s friends/back up singers really get the crowd going with their infectious energy and talent. Danielle Marie Gonzalez reprises her role as Tess, whom she played during the National Tour of Flashdance. Tess is an untamed beauty and her performance of the rock ballad “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” is spicy and electric—the girl is on fire. Kiki, played by Laquet Sharnell Pringle, has powerhouse vocals that will have you cheering for more. She’s captivating and commands the stage during her sexy performance of “Manhunt.”

"Flashdance: The Musical," cast, Photo: Jeff Bellante Gateway
“Flashdance: The Musical” cast, Photo: Jeff Bellante

The impressive set includes a walkway into the crowd, myriad moving parts and a backdrop including the “steel city” that was Pittsburgh in 1983. Directed and choreographed by Keith Andrews and Vincent Ortega, Gateway once again delivers on its promise to stage Broadway-caliber productions right here on Long Island.

Flashdance: The Musical is one not to miss for so many reasons—the nostalgic music of the ’80s, the incredible dancing, and the one and only Julia Macchio, whose career is destined to be great. She was a delightful surprise that I hope we see more of on the Gateway stage.

Flashdance: The Musical runs through September 15 at the Patchogue Theatre, presented by The Gateway. For tickets and information visit gatewayplayhouse.org.

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