The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera follows last week's wonderful Bells Are Ringing with another terrific production, A Chorus Line. There probably aren't too many theatregoers of the last 25 years who haven't seen at least one production of this show, which set records during its Broadway run. Original cast member Baayork Lee returns to Pittsburgh to stage this production.
The cast is comprised of dancers going through the audition process for the chorus line of a new Broadway show, with Zach the choreographer urging the dancers to tell about their lives. These stories, told through speech, song, and dance give insight into the life of a chorus line dancer. Knowing that the original script is based on the true stories of the original A Chorus Line cast members makes the stories even more poignant.
As in the original production, this production's cast members are building resumes of ensemble and understudy work, mostly in regional and tour productions, with some Off-Broadway and Broadway credits. The two cast members with the most prominent credits are Caitlin Carter (Cassie) and Mark Bove (Zach), and this prominence is true to the roles they play. Carter, aside from being stunning on stage, is perfect for the role of the stage star who tried to make it in Hollywood and now returns to what she loves, dancing, and is willing to take any dancing role, even on the line. She offers a beautiful rendition of "The Music and the Mirror." The remaining cast members are young, enthusiastic, and extremely talented. Standouts include Colleen Hawks (Judy), a superb dancer, Robert Tunstall (Bobby), Cindy Marchionda (Diana), and Luis Villabon (Paul). Villabon's heartfelt delivery of the "Jewel Box" monologue is extremely touching and he's also a gifted dancer.
Little, if anything, is changed drastically from the original version. The simple set of turning mirror panels and the costumes of '70s style dance wear are here and Michael Bennett's choreography, restaged beautifully by Ms. Lee, is wonderful, particularly in the group numbers. The score (Marvin Hamlisch, music, and Edward Kleban, lyrics), with legendary songs, is well served by the cast. If you are already a Chorus Line fan or, if you somehow have missed it all this time and are seeing it for the first time, I think you'll love this version.
A Chorus Line
Presented by the Pittsburgh CLO
With (alphabetical order) Miguel Angel, Mark Bove, Paul Buschman, Caitlin Carter, DJ Chase, Eric Dysart, Tim Federle, Britt Freund, Michael Gorman, Brenda Hamilton, Colleen Hawks, Nadine Isenegger, Kurt Kelly, Lauri Kraft, Rebbecca Kupka, Jennifer Lewis, Cindy Marchionda, Halden Michaels, Jamie Norcini, Raegan Pierce, Shane Rhoades, John Salvatore, Kim Shriver, Michele Tibbitts, Robert Tunstall, Luis Villabon, Lauren Wagner, Miki Yamashita.