Flashdance: Spotlight on Alex Owens
As someone who spends all day working with metal, and her evenings practising her dancing with various theatre groups in Glasgow, Christina Leon was a natural fit for the role of Alex Owens in Flashdance - the role made famous by Jennifer Beals in the 1983 film. Andi Denny talks to Christina about her first GMT show...
Hey Christina, Happy New Year! You're just about to go back to rehearsals. How many have you got left at this point?
Just three more, then we're off to Pittsburgh!
How are you feeling about it?
I'm a good mix of excited and nervous right now, though the nerves are mostly due to this recurring dream where I've forgotten all my costumes and have to perform in my pants.
The film is well-known, but the stage show is relatively new and has never been done in Glasgow before. How would you describe Flashdance to people who've never seen it?
Well, even for people who've never seen either version of it, they'll recognise some of the iconic songs: Manhunt, Gloria, I Love Rock'n'Roll, and obviously Flashdance--What a Feeling. There are a lot of new songs in there, too, and it's full of lively performances that'll have everyone up dancing in the aisles by the end. It's not just great numbers though--the storyline is gritty and gripping. People are going to love it.
Your character, Alex, isn't your average musical heroine. Most people would know she's a welder, and a dancer, and know the iconic scene on the chair with the water tipping over her. What's she really like, though?
Luckily she isn't your average stage heroine, which is probably because the film came first. I think people can relate to her more because she doesn't fit that musical theatre mould. She's scared to go for her dreams in case she gets rejected. I think most people in the audience will have some experience with that. She has her faults, too. She's guarded and keeps people at a distance, but deep down she longs for a chance to prove her worth. That's been quite challenging and rewarding to play.
The film was made in 1983, and that's when the show is set. Do you think it's relevant to a 2015 Glasgow audience?
Pittsburgh and Scotland have a really similar history, with a hard-hitting recession closing down massive manufacturing plants. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years history has repeated itself, so I think a musical that addresses that situation, like Flashdance or even The Full Monty and Billy Elliot, is really relevant. The audience will see characters on stage who have smaller roles in the film, or even don't exist in the film, who are taking on different aspects of this tough time, from crime and drugs to battling self-esteem issues. The different paths those things can take you down is pretty interestingly shown in Alex, Jimmy, Gloria and Nick as they try to work out who they are, who they want to be and how they fit in in this uncertain time.
Anyone who's seen you in rehearsals or who'll be in the audience later this month will be able to tell you've put a lot of work into it. What's been the most challenging aspect for you?
The most challenging aspect for me has definitely been the dancing. I've been dancing since I was young, but with the different styles involved it's been a challenge achieving the level of quality that GMT has set so high in the other shows I've seen them do.
Is that why you auditioned?
Yeah, that, and I watched Flashdance when I was young and always wanted to be Alex, welding by day and dancing at night. So now, I've replaced the welding with my own day job, soldering as a jeweller and replaced dancing in a bar with the Glasgow musical scene.
You're glad you did it then?
Oh yeah! I've had a great time. I can't wait to get the chance to audition for more GMT shows.
What would you say to anyone thinking of auditioning for a GMT show?
Go for it! Ideally go to their pre-audition event to get to meet everyone. They're a great bunch. I was scared at first of the workshop-style audition for Flashdance, which is what they do for the bigger shows, but as soon as we started I really loved it. It's so laid back, and really was the best audition environment I've ever been in.
Awesome! Finally, why should people come to Flashdance - in ten words or less?
Everybody needs a flash of 80s in their life!
Flashdance opens at Eastwood Park Theatre on 20 January 2015. Visit the Box Office pages of our website for further details.