Flash back to “Flashdance.”
Beyond the legwarmers and ripped, off-the-shoulder sweatshirts.
Back to the maniac on the floor, dancing like she’s never danced before, taking her passion and making it happen.
You know the feeling. At least if you’re planning to catch “Flashdance: The Musical,” which checks into The Smith Center on Tuesday for an eight-performance run.
So does director-choreographer Sergio Trujillo.
The Tony-winning choreographer of Broadway hits from “Memphis” to “Jersey Boys” (along with the latter’s long-running Las Vegas incarnation), Trujillo was a pre-med student at the University of Toronto when he saw “Flashdance” in 1983.
The Colombian native, who had moved to Canada with his family, knew how to mambo and cha cha, of course.
Being a Latin, “all sorts of social dance was part of my genetic makeup,” Trujillo acknowledges.
But watching a movie about a Pittsburgh steel-mill welder determined to dance — somewhere other than the neighborhood bar, that is — “awakened my passion and interest in dance,” Trujillo says during a telephone interview.
He was 19, considered “an old age” to start pursuing a dance career, but after watching “Flashdance” heroine Alex Owens in action, Trujillo thought, “if she can do it, I can do it,” he says. “It goes to show you … if you have a dream and stay focused and stay disciplined, unimaginable things can happen to you.”
Things such as making your Broadway dance debut in the Tony-winning musical “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” — and ending your Broadway dance career a decade later with another Tony-winning musical tribute, “Fosse.”
Things such as adding “director” to your list of stage credits with “Flashdance” — Version 2.0.
Trujillo was “brought in three years ago to doctor the show” after its London debut, he notes. Although “willing to take over the show,” he told producers he would “have to start from scratch.”
In large part, that’s because “the London production was such a departure from the movie, it didn’t work,” in the director’s view.
Audiences don’t buy tickets to stage versions of favorite movies and say, “ ‘I love that film — I hope this is different,’ ” observes Robert Cary, who co-wrote the adaptation (with original screenwriter Tom Hedley) and collaborated on the lyrics with composer Robbie Roth.
As Trujillo puts it, “the audience will set you free. The audience will tell you things nobody else will tell you.”
British audiences were telling “Flashdance’s” creative team that “any significant deviations” were unacceptable, because they “knew the film — or felt they knew the film,” Cary says in a telephone interview.
So, for example, the character of Alex’s mother — who wasn’t in the movie and was created to give the stage musical a mother-daughter relationship — no longer exists, Cary says.
“It’s now more of a fairy tale — the parents aren’t in the picture,” he adds. “Audiences wanted to have that mythical element.”
Audiences also wanted to see some of the movie’s big set pieces, including Alex’s memorable water-drenched dance scene.
Those showstoppers are there — along with 16 new songs, ranging from the opening “Steeltown Sky” to Alex’s climactic solo “Let Go.”
Cary describes the latter as “the most Olympian piece,” requiring “a Herculean kind of feat” from “one person, one body, no close-ups — and no doubles.” (Unlike the movie.)
“It’s a leading lady part that any number of young women would kill to have,” he adds. “But it’s a killer part.”
And 19-year-old Jillian Mueller, who plays Alex, ranks as “a true triple threat,” Trujillo says, citing the “very contemporary dancing the role requires, along with singing “in a pop, contemporary genre. And you cannot accomplish all that if you’re not a phenomenal actress.”
For the composers, “it wasn’t our mandate or desire to create hit-filled hooks” to echo such “Flashdance” movie hits as “Maniac,” “Gloria” or the Oscar-winning title song, Cary notes. But “there has been an attempt to make the show live within one sonic world,” in part so “the role the orchestra plays doesn’t feel schizophrenic.”
As for the role “Flashdance’s” dancing plays, think center stage, Trujillo says.
“If ever there was any show that needed to dance, it was this one,” the director-choreographer comments.
Beyond the talents displayed by Mueller in “Flashdance’s” central role, Trujillo has surrounded her “with a core group of dancers in their early 20s,” who supplement traditional Broadway dancing with hip-hop, break-dancing, modern dance and jazz, the director says.
“What I’ve done with the show is bring dance to the forefront,” Trujillo says. “Dance is a character in the show.”
A show that’s still evolving, according to its creators.
A “fairly significant” script revision is in progress, Cary notes. It includes “changing some locales and blending a couple of characters,” among other changes — although Las Vegas audiences won’t be seeing them on this tour stop, he adds.
“It’s like trying to change the tire on a car that’s going 60 miles an hour,” the writer points out. “We’re not in a position to pull the show off the road” to make the changes, Cary adds. “As a writer, watching the show, you have to consider not only what’s helpful but what’s actually feasible.”
Although most stage musicals based on hit movies start on Broadway and hit the road afterward, “Flashdance” is following the opposite path, with a North American tour preceding a New York run that Trujillo considers “just a matter of time.”
After all, “to be seen all over North America — why ruin a good thing?” the director-choreographer says. “The show’s selling out everywhere we go. We’re on a really good path.”
Contact reporter Carol Cling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0272.