She’s A Maniac!

Catching up with the star of Flashdance: The Musical, coming to the Hult

Karli Dinardo as Alex Owens photo by Denise Truscello
Karli Dinardo as Alex Owens photo by Denise Truscello

The 1983 film Flashdance shook up American culture. Racy and sweet, the movie defined fashion at the time, introduced what seemed like very new, edgy street dance, and taught a generation of young women how to take their bras off underneath their sweatshirts.

Based on the phenomenally successful film, Flashdance: The Musical adapts to the stage the story of Alex Owens, a welder by day and bar dancer by night, who has big dreams of one day becoming a professional ballet dancer.

Taking the lead role, Karli Dinardo, just 20-years-old, was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, but she doffs her Aussie accent to sing, dance and act her way through Pittsburgh’s gritty steel mills and gentlemen’s clubs.

“I started dancing when I was about three,” Dinardo says. “I was a terrible toddler, and my parents put me into dance classes, hoping that dancing would help me to use up all that energy.”

After her first dance class, Dinardo was hooked. “You couldn’t stop me!” she says.

Singing soon followed, then acting. Dinardo attended the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy for college and snapped up a major role in the touring production of Flashdance.

Choreographed and directed by Tony Award-winning Sergio Trujillo, the musical employs a combination of ballet, jazz, hip hop and lyrical movement. “The style of the show is so cool,” says Dinardo. “The choreography has so many different moments in it.”

Dinardo’s part requires her to be in motion nearly every minute, and unlike the film’s actress Jennifer Beals, Dinardo does all her own dancing and singing. Dinardo says she’s gotten used to finding the places in the movement to catch her breath, “But it’s not during a kick-my-face/triple-turn, that’s for sure,” she says.

With book by Tom Hedley (co-writer of the film’s original screenplay) and music and lyrics by Robbie Roth and Robert Cary, the musical features all the beloved songs from the movie including “Manhunt,” “Maniac” and “Flashdance: What a Feeling.”

“Audiences can look forward to seeing the classic tunes they know and love,” Dinardo says. “Along with 16 new songs that’ve been written for the show.”

When I catch up with her by phone, Dinardo says she hasn’t yet experienced the onstage shower, rigged to drench her during the stage retelling of one of the film’s most iconic scenes.

“I hear the water will be room temperature,” says Dinardo. “And that there’ll be lots of it.”

 Flashdance: The Musical comes to the Hult Center 7:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 28, and Wednesday, Oct. 29; $33-$73 There will be a free ’80s costume dance party in the lobby 6 to 7:30 pm Oct. 28 in the Hult lobby.