Sexy Broadway Romp

Director Michael Damian follows up his successful High Strung with High Strung Free Dance. A sequel in name only, this largely unconnected story follows a talented but mercurial choreographer behind the scenes on his new Broadway show. From the same filmmakers, High Strung Free Dance stands by itself as a movie while retaining High Strung’s high-end Broadway standards.

Broadway stars in their own right, husband-wife duo Michael Damian and Janeen Damian are behind the High Strung films. Pulling from their experiences, they fashion a lively and engaging movie about the trials and tribulations faced by dancers on Broadway. A cast of world-class performers and exuberantly original music combine for a passionate peek into the heady world of contemporary dancers trying to make it big.

Mostly known as Dove Cameron’s boyfriend, the youthful cast is headed by smoldering Scot Thomas Doherty (The CW’s Legacies). Juliet Doherty plays the beautiful ingenue looking for a break in her dancing career. Less impressively, Harry Jarvis is a gifted piano player struggling to make ends meet.

Zander Raines (Thomas Doherty) is a dazzlingly gifted choreographer preparing his latest Broadway smash when young dancer Barlow (Juliet Doherty) gets cast in the show. Charlie (Harry Jarvis) is a talented pianist working as a delivery boy when fortune smiles on him and Zander ends up needing his skills. Bringing all the excitement and energy of a raucous Broadway musical, the trio’s romantic ups and downs play out in a decidedly unequal love triangle.

… the world of song and dance has never looked so sexy, or been staged this well on screen, since the days of Fame.

Snappy and upbeat, High Strung Free Dance offers spectacular musical numbers in a variety of styles, everything from Bollywood to Hip-hop. Juliet Doherty’s dance moves are stunning – she’s clearly a talented dancer beyond being a pretty face. The elaborate song-and-dance numbers are creatively brilliant, designed by some of the best choreographers working today in New York. Crisply paced, character development occasionally takes a backseat to the dance numbers. The final act delivers an impressively staged mini-version of Zander’s Broadway show.

Jane Seymour reprises her role from High Strung as Barlow’s mother. It’s little more than a small supporting role but it’s always nice seeing a familiar actress as part of the cast. What sells High Strung Free Dance is the explosive chemistry between the leads, especially Thomas Doherty and Juliet Doherty. Recently seen vamping it up as Legacies’ resident bad boy love interest, Thomas Doherty is a future star waiting to happen. This is one love triangle with a little something for everyone. Someone needs to find the right vehicle for Juliet Doherty. She’s brimming with talent and perfect in this role as the wide-eyed new dancer.

The world of song and dance has never looked so sexy, or been staged this well on screen, since the days of Fame. Some of the love triangle may be hammy and Harry Jarvis badly over acts in several scenes, but High Strung Free Dance has a positive, feel-good energy that exudes fun. This is a movie that should inspire future generations of dancers.

Video

The 2018 independent production has been put out on Blu-ray by an entity called GVN Releasing. The main feature runs 110 minutes, encoded in MPEG-2 on a BD-25. The 2.39:1 presentation has nice enough detail and satisfactory definition.

Clearly shot with newer cameras, the 1080P video is pristine and clear. This is bright video with no real flaws. A solid contrast and strong black levels help make for eye-pleasing picture quality.

The digital transfer is largely perfect with no overt artifacts or over-done processing. Close-ups are sharp and loaded with fine detail. The cinematography is tailored to the musical dance numbers, often working hand-in-hand like a music video.

Audio

The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is a front-heavy surround mix. The energetic musical score makes a constant splash during the big musical dance numbers. Composer Nathan Lanier works in several different genres, making for a diverse but fantastic array of songs.

The lack of lossless audio isn’t surprising for an independently released BD but doesn’t materially affect clarity or fidelity. Some compression and limiting has been used in the audio mix, affecting dynamics. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and nicely balanced with larger audio elements.

Despite being listed on the back cover, no subtitles are included.

Extras

High Strung Free Dance gets a few perfunctory featurettes for this Blu-ray edition. A commentary by director Michael Damian would have been fantastic.

Behind the Scenes of High Strung Free Dance (07:59 in HD) – Cast and crew break down the elaborate choreography needed for the musical dance numbers in this pithy featurette filled with on-set footage and bloopers. Emmy winning choreographer Tyce Diorio (So You Think You Can Dance) makes an appearance in behind-the-scenes footage. Lead cast members Thomas and Juliet Doherty discuss their characters.

Interview With Composer Nathan Lanier (01:59 in HD) – Returning from the first High Strung, Lanier discusses working in all the different genres featured in this sequel: Latin, Hip-hop, Dubstep, Electroswing and more.

“Masterpiece” Music Video (04:13 in HD) – Clips from the movie play as the song plays.

“Liar” Music Video (03:41 in HD) – The band goes unlisted but this is an actual music video made by a band, one that doesn’t rely on stock clips taken from the movie.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more on DoBlu’s standards.

High Strung Free Dance
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

A sexy and upbeat love triangle, headed by a dynamite cast, set against the back-drop of making a Broadway show.

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