Death in Spandex: Death dances the streets of 1980s Kansas City in ‘Slashdance’

Joey Hill

It’s easy to say the walking un-dead have infested almost every corner of the present culture.

Zombies are proving to appear as a full blown cultural force, finding a place for themselves in any setting, any genre and any decade. Thus, it’s no surprise they would find a comfortable spot in the 1980s.

“Slashdance” which premiered on March 7, is a musical horror-comedy performed at the Coterie Theatre. It meets ‘80s dance classic “Flashdance” with a hostile, zombie-infested Kansas City as survivors struggle to make their dreams come true.

The original “Flashdance” was released in 1983 and starred actress Jennifer Beals as Alexandra Owens, a welder who dreams of becoming a professional dancer.

The film has since gained a cult following. It should be noted that “Slashdance” is not simply “Flashdance” with zombies. When one walks into the theater and searches for a seat, they are greeted with a smoky set illuminated with bright fluorescent blue, red, yellow and green lights. There’s a large towering wall of debris covered with scaffolding and hazard signs all the while loud ’80s pop music blares form every corner.

This is the barricade, a wall made to keep the cannibals, as they are referred to in the play, from the few remaining survivors. The barricade is kept up by a group of welders, one of which is the beautiful Alexis Bowens, a fighter who dreams of one day going to the prestigious Kansas City School of Classical Ballet and Pole Dancing. The road to fame is hard, and as the body count rises, she beings to understand what really drives her passion.

The play is performed so expertly, it can actually stand on its own as a fantastic story without any real knowledge of the original film. Much of the comedy is lighthearted though rather mature in some moments. The moments of violent eradication of hoards of cannibals rushing the stage help make it clear why audience members much be at least 13.

The choreography is fantastic not deviating from the source material and expertly incorporating the hack and slash moments of cannibal killing with pulsating lighting and the unforgettable ‘80s-based soundtrack. The action never lets up and even if it appears as though it has, the blood-curdling screams of the cannibal hoards are not far behind.

“Slashdance” feels like a campy ’80s horror film when it needs to, and it can also be absolutely hilarious. It’s a triumph of musical comedy theater never taking itself too seriously and an all-around fantastic show.

“Slashdance” will run through March 24.

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