Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
A Chorus Line
Also see John's review of Bernadette Peters
A Chorus Line features a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban. The original production was directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett. It opened Off-Broadway at The Public Theatre on May 21, 1975. On July 25, 1975, Producer Joseph Papp moved the production to Broadway's Shubert Theatre, where it ran for 6,137 performances. The production was nominated for twelve Tony Awards, winning nine: Best Musical, Best Musical Book, Best Score (Hamlisch and Kleban), Best Director, Best Choreography, Best Actress (McKechnie), Best Featured Actor (Sammy Williams), Best Featured Actress (Bishop) and Best Lighting Design. The show also won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play of the season. It remains the longest running Broadway musical originally produced in the United States, and the fourth longest-running Broadway show ever. It was revived on Broadway in 2006. For more information on the show and this national tour you may go to www.achorusline.com.
A Chorus Line focuses on the lives of seventeen Broadway dancers auditioning for spots in the chorus line of a new musical. It is set on the bare stage of a Broadway theatre in 1975, during the actual audition for the new musical. The show provides a glimpse into the personalities of the performers and their choreographer/director, Zach, as they describe the events that have shaped their lives and their decisions to become dancers. Their personal stories are memorable mixtures of passion, humor and pain that ring of touching and familiar truths. It is not possible to think of this show without recalling its most famous song "What I Did For Love" and the signature style of the choreography of Michael Bennett.
The choreographic style of Michael Bennett remains intact in this production, as restaged by original cast member Baayork Lee. Though it seems more athletically angular and less flatteringly graceful with the passage of time, it is well executed by a cast of experienced dancers. Shannon Lewis is wonderfully bitchy as Sheila, Mindy Dougherty is pert as Val, and Jessica Latshaw shows nice comedic ability as Christine. As Maggie, Hollie Howard has a lovely singing voice that shines in the musical number "At The Ballet." Kevin Santos as Paul has the luxury of having one of the most prized male monologues in musical theatre. He has a tender, sweet quality in the role, but leaves many layers of the monologue unexplored and feels very young as an actor.
The ensemble singing as a whole is good, though a little light on the tenor notes, and Anthony Wayne as Richie seems to have a hard time blending vocally with the ensemble. This actually applies to his dancing as well. On the night attended, in the scene where Zach is yelling at Cassie "Don't pop the hip," Mr. Wayne was two dancers away from her in the line inexplicably pulling focus by over-extending his hips forward and popping his hip. Robyn Hurder as Cassie dances the part well and is quite good in the confrontation scene when Zach pulls her out of line. Make no mistake, this is a difficult role that is normally played by the strongest female dancer in the cast. But Cassie needs to be a good actress too. Note that she actually confesses she failed in Hollywood because she can't act, so it can be dangerous to have a dancer who really can't act the role. Because of this, Ms. Hurder needs to work on her first scene with Zach as some of it feels very unnatural ("Dear old Zachold pussycat"), though she is the right woman for the role. Gabriella Ruiz as Diana delivers both "Nothing" and "What I Did For Love" with a strong and convincing voice just reminiscent enough of the original Diana, Priscilla Lopez, to make one smile.
It seems that what has softened over time is the impact of the gritty personal stories of the characters of A Chorus Line as we become an audience that is now overexposed to tell-all TV tales. It therefore becomes even more important that the actors retain the freshness of their characters and the urgency of their stories, in order to drive home the magic of that original production of A Chorus Line loved by so many.
Broadway Across America - Ft. Lauderdale is presented in arrangement with the Florida Theatrical Association, which is a non-profit, civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality national touring Broadway productions in the state of Florida. Broadway Across America is dedicated to creating memorable and accessible theatrical experiences for all guests, selling over five million tickets to first rate Broadway shows, family productions and other live theatrical events in over 40 North American cities each year. For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent, please visit www.BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com.
A Chorus Line will be appearing through March 1, 2009 in the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For tickets and/or information on the many diverse offering of the Broward center for the Performing Arts you may contact them at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org. Tickets may also available in person through Ticketmaster by phone at 954-523-3309 in Broward County, in person at Ticketmaster outlets, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
The actors and stage managers in this production are members of Actor's Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.