For his part, Trujillo was looking for a project that would allow him to tell a story through scenes and dance. This one, he says, “made absolute sense. No one but a choreographer or ex-dancer could understand what it takes to be a dancer.”
His staging references some of the movie’s iconic moments — Alex doing a chair dance and getting drenched by shower water, for instance — but the Colombia-born, Canada-raised Trujillo has crafted his own version of the fairy tale.
The three-decade delay in getting Flashdance from the screen to the stage also worked to the musical’s advantage visually. Set designer Klara Zieglerova collaborated with projection designer Peter Nigrini to create a world of ’80s steel-town grit and flashy glamor, one that moves as fast as the dancers.
“It’s very cinematic. It moves fast. The first scene has 13 different looks,” Zieglerova says, adding that the show’s look was inspired in part by an Andrew Moore photo of a steel-mill interior. “We made these three-dimensional towers that were in the photo. They could open so you could have dance space, then close to create intimacy.”
Nigrini, a master of the relatively new art of projection design, collaborated with Zieglerova to create what he calls “an aesthetic conversation between an object and the content projected onto it” so that the boundary between the two dissolves.
“It’s increasingly possible to make theater that moves cinematically,” he says. “As far as I’m concerned, every image should move, but directors find that terrifying. Life isn’t static.”
Nigrini notes that Flashdance the Musical contains nearly 2,000 separate pieces of video that the stage manager can cue at will.
“There’s an incredible amount of technology and scenery in this show, but all those things need to be subservient to living, breathing actors,” he says. “Otherwise, you should just go to the movies.”