Review: ‘High Strung Free Dance’ offers sugary gloss


Kids, do you remember when it was okay to eat a big heapin’ bowl of Sugar Frosted Flakes? Yeah, it had Sugar in front of the name before all of the pesky parents’ groups got in the way.

Yep, those were the carefree days of getting sugar. Former Young and The Restless star turned screenwriter and director, Michael Damian (Danny Romalotti) must yearn for them, because that is what he serves up in the new dance film, High Strung Free Dance.

Apparently a sequel to 2016’s High Strung (never heard of it), Damian, who played a musician on Y&R and his writing partner, and wife, Janeen Damian, who got her career start as a Solid Gold Dancer, offer up a story sweet enough to give an audience diabetes.

At least a good toothache.

And big surprise – it’s about a dancer falling in love with a musician!

Barlow, played by the stunningly beautiful Juliet Doherty, is a spunky, driven, formally trained (by on screen mother, Jane Seymour) dancer, who is living in the kind of apartment that young, struggling New York actors always seem to find, but are always on the very of getting kicked out of. Oh, Barlow does actually get evicted shortly after the film begins.

Anyhoo, we quickly get a glimpse of Barlow’s life. She auditions and works for a telemarketer. After her initial audition flops, Barlow gets a chance to audition for famous British choreographer, Zander (shouldn’t that be with an X?) Raines, played by (no relation) Thomas Doherty (The Descendants 2 and 3).

After Zander cuts Barlow from the audition, the dancer – determined to be seen – lets her hair down (literally) and dances up a storm.

Of course the choreographer ignores that he told Barlow to get lost and casts her in his new Broadway show, Free Dance! Meanwhile around the corner, is pianist Charlie, Harry Jarvis, who just happens to be the best pianist in all of New York, but just can’t seem to get that break.

Luckily in the mother of all coincidences, Zander is giving Barlow a ride home (noooooo he’s not going to hit on her) and his SUV collides with Charlie, who is riding a bike.

Charlie is just shaken up (of course you only get scratches after an SUV collides with your bike) and the two decide to take him to his piano gig, which leads to a pretty fun and dazzling dance number in the club.

Through a series of events, Charlie ends up as the pianist in the new musical. Because everyone can bring a bag of bagels to the choreographer and ask to play the piano and be that great.

And the on-again, off-again so-so romance between Charlie and Barlow is on!

Charlie falls for the dough-eyed Barlow, who has fallen into a behind-the-scenes relationship with Zander. Apparently, Damian decided to ignore the whole #Metoo thing going on.

After a series of more coincidences, which is taken to a new art form here, we have the final show. Barlow is amazing. Charlie is amazing. The End.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with High Strung Free Dance. That is if you are a she or they (we’re progressive at 360), between the ages of 10 – 13. Think of it as watching a CW show (Supernatural excluded) with great dance numbers.

Speaking of, the dancing is actually quite good and at times, inspired. Both Doughertys and Jarvis, as well as the rest of the cast, are pretty to look at. Surprisingly, bland at the same time. The cinematography by Viorel Sergovici makes New York romantic once again. One thing I will give the film props for, apparently the exteriors were filmed in NYC and the interiors in Romania. I never once felt like we left the city.

For anyone else, who you know, realizes success shouldn’t happen so easy or by happenstance for their heroes, viewing this will probably be an eye-rolling experience. Add in a couple of subplots that don’t really go anywhere and there you have it.

That said, there are worse ways to spend an afternoon than watching High Strung Free Dance.

Unless you’re over the age of 13.

2.5 Ball Point Pens. So says The Geek. Here’s a peek at pretty-bland (see what I did there?) the trailer:

ALSO READ: The end of ‘Supernatural’ begins tonight on CW

   Production companies: Castel Film Studio, Riviera Films
   Distributor: Atlas Distribution Company
   Cast: Harry Jarvis, Juliet Doherty, Thomas Doherty, Ace Bhatti, Jane Seymour,    Jorgen Makena
   Director: Michael Damian
   Screenwriters-producers: Michael Damian, Janeen Damian
   Executive producers: Dave Scott, Jane Seymour, Alex Walton
   Director of photography: Viorel Sergovici
   Production designer: Mihai Dorobantu
   Costume designer: Ana Ioneci
   Editor: William Honeyball
   Composer: Nathan Lanier
   Casting director: Carolyn McLeod

Rated PG, 103 minutes