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San Francisco by Richard Connema

A Chorus Line, Andrea McArdle and Roslyn Kind

 


A Chorus Line Returns to San Francisco

A Chorus Line
Nikki Snelson
Marvin Hamlisch, Edward Kleban and Michael Bennett's A Chorus Line has returned to the Curran Stage through July 27th.  This revival started its pre-Broadway run in 2006, when there was a lot of talk about the wisdom of resurrecting the iconic musical. The musical garnered positive reviews, especially for the out of this world dancing.

This marks my 28th time to see the legendary musical about members of a chorus waiting to see which four men and four women will be picked for a big Broadway show.  We hear the characters describing their individual pain, their sexual beginnings and pubescent traumas. 

Bob Avian has assembled a cast of accomplished dancers and singers, and he has reproduced Bennett's staging in the exciting chorus line dance numbers.  The opening sequence when Zach says "step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch—again" as the chorus boys and girls warm up is always exciting. The choreography and dancing in the last numbers "One," "The Tap Combination" and the reprise of "One" are terrific. I still get a lump in my throat watching these dancers propel the audience into delirious ovations. There is no doubt about the dancing—it is dazzling when the whole group is together.  You could not find a better chorus anywhere.

The main problem in this production is not the dancing but the lack of enthusiasm on the part of some of the performers. Some do not dazzle when telling stories of their childhood, their aspirations and their dreams.

Clyde Alves as Mike starts the storytelling, speaking about competing with his sister, as he dances and sings, "I Can Do That." Not only is he great in the vocal department, but he dances up a storm with his fancy foot work. It certainly starts that part of the show off on a high note. Gabrielle Ruiz gives a poignant reading in "Nothing." Nikki Snelson, who is otherwise excellent, tends to go overboard a bit in the big number, "The Music and the Mirror." Kevin Santos as Paul does not put enough emotion into the story of a youthful drag artist. Natalie Hall's Val shrieks in "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three" (which might have been the fault of the sound system).

Tharon Musser's lighting design adapted by Natasha Katz is first rate while Robin Wagner's well-known mirrors are still fantastic to see. For all the young folks who have never seen this legendary show, it is a must-see, especially for anyone interested in show business.

A Chorus Line runs through July 27th at the Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St. San Francisco.  For tickets call 415-512-7770 or visit www.shnsf.com.  Coming up is The Drowsy Chaperone at the Orpheum Theatre opening on July 22nd and running through August 17th.

Photo: Paul Kolnick


Andrea McArdle Wows the Audience

Andrea McArcle
Andrea McArdle
Andrea McArdle, the original "Annie," is all grown up with a 19-year-old daughter Alexis, who is also in show biz. The Annie star has not lost her zest for life. She is charming and spunky and has a terrific big, brassy voice.  She can belt out a tune with the best of singers. She also breaks down the barrier between artist and audience, and you feel she is talking to you personally.  She looks great in her tailored white pantsuit.  What a shame Andrea was at the Rrazz Room in the Hotel Nikko for only three days.

Ms. McArdle was backed on piano by the very talented Seth Rudetsky (who joined her in several songs) plus the great Daniel Fabricant on bass and Jim Zimmerman on drums. What a dynamite trio to back the spirited singer. She held the audience in the palm of her hand in her first song, with a tribute to Judy Garland on "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart."  The trio then started with a few bars of "New York, New York" and she told her fans "no," and started to sing "N.Y.C." from Annie, bringing down the house.

Seth Rudetsky got into the act with his sharp sense of humor, telling Andrea "Don't sing Sondheim, don't ... don't" and the artist went right into "Everybody Says Don't" from Anyone can Whistle. Seth can almost be called her co-star in this 70 minute show since he encouraged her to tell stories and even helped her with the lyrics on "Some People" from Gypsy.

  Ms. McArdle showed her soft side singing John Higgins and John Jacobson's "A Child of the World." She has a wonderful versatile voice, shown on a sensual rendition of Sondheim's "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" and a lovely version of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables.

Did she sing "Tomorrow" from Annie you might ask.  Of course she did, and she still has the superb vocal cords to bring it to a great crescendo. Andrea showed she can groove when she sang Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man".

Andrea McArdle introduced the audience her beautiful daughter Alexis; they both will appearing this summer in Les Miserables at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine from September 12 through October 12.  The daughter is a Broadway veteran, having made her first appearance as the young Cosette at age 7.  With a commanding voice, she sang "On My Own" for us.

Andrea McArdle regaled the audience with stories of her life.  She played in several soap operas when she was a young girl, even before Annie. She also said that Annie was the last show on Broadway without the current over-amplifying mike system. She played the young Judy Garland in the television drama "Rainbow" and worked with Liberace on tour. There is an amusing story about spilling M&Ms all over the stage during a performance of Les Miserables and being reported to the union for her negligence. An interesting anecdote that few people know is that Catherine Zeta-Jones was the youngest orphan in the London production of Annie.

Of course, the fans just wouldn't let Andrea go without an encore and she gave them an enchanting rendition of "Over the Rainbow."  This was a great night for McArdle fans and everyone who loves Broadway music. The Rrazz Room will be featuring artists from "American Idol" from July 1 through August 30th.    For more information visit www.TheRrazzRoom.com or call 866-468-3399 for reservations.

Photo: Carol Rosegg


The Extraordinary Roslyn Kind at the Rrazz Room

The impressive Roslyn Kind made an all too brief appearance at the Rrazz Room in the Hotel Nikko. Ms. Kind, who is Barbra Streisand's sister, is an accomplished vocalist in her own right.  Although one will compare her to Barbra, Roslyn has a singing style somewhat different from her sister.  She bantered with audience throughout the gig and delivered stories with ease.  She said, "Thank you for comparing me to my sister Barbra Brolin [sic]". Even when she started to sing "People," she told the audience, "thank you but it's now my song," following up with "I've Got to Be Me."

Backed by Sam Keiger on keyboard and Andrew Higgins on bass and guitar, Roslyn opened the show with Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley's  heartfelt "Pure Imagination" and then belted out the upbeat "It's Today" from Mame. Her great vocal range was wonderful when she soulfully sang "Somebody Loves Me".

Roslyn Kind paid tribute to her dearly departed Yorkshire terrier Josh, movingly singing Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's "Times Like This."  The artist showed her vibrant voice when singing the title song from her latest CD, D.E. Lasley and A.S. Willis' "Come What May."   There were also the swinging melodies of Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love" and Michael LeGrand, Alan and Marilyn Bergman's "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?."

Roslyn Kind belted out the title song from the Off-Broadway show by Lee Thuna, Kenneth Jacobson and Rhoda Roberts, Show Me Where the Good Times are and a sublime arrangement of Stephen Schwartz' "Meadowlark" from The Baker's Wife.  After a standing ovation Ms. Kind returned with Leslie Bricusse and J.T. Williams's "Can You Read My Mind."  

Roslyn Kind played the Rrazz Room June 21-22. For more information visit www.TheRrazzRoom.com or call 866-468-3399 for reservations.  


Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area

- Richard Connema



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