As a writer I am younger than one of the longest running musicals in history, but “A Chorus Line” still glitters and shines with the same fervor since its premiere on Broadway in 1975. This timeless play about a talented group of dancers going through the grueling, challenging, and emotional tryouts to make it in the chorus is one that everyone can relate to, whether they have two left feet or not.
A Chorus Line follows an ensemble cast of aspiring dancers throughout three stages of cuts on their way into the chorus. The opening scene begins with the dancers practicing a complicated choreography routine while being criticized and judged by the director and his assistant; “How many Broadway shows?” “Keep your head up.” “Arms up on the fourth count not the third.” The ensemble cast has all the caricatures and stereotypes of dancers during the audition process; you have the standouts that shine and completely steal the spotlight, like the outgoing and overly-confident Val, played by Nina Fluke; you have the dancers who struggle with their confidence such as Paul, played by Bryan Knowlton, dancers who are battling nerves like Judy, played by Laura E. Taylor, the sassy veteran dancer like Sheila, played by Anika Ellis, and funny and flamboyant-like Bobby, played by Drew Nellessen. The entire cast was phenomenal with voices that carried the weight of desire and passion for dancing. The only exception the outstanding performances was the solo dancing sequence featuring Mara Davi as Cassie; her solo “The Music and the Mirror” was a spotlight number in which two way mirrors dropped from the ceiling adding a stunning visual backdrop for the actress, but Davi, who is an experienced Broadway performer, lacked the fluidity and grace the number required. The dance needed to embody Cassie’s passion and hold up to her statement, “God, I’m a dancer!” Her number, which should have been the crowning piece in the second half of the play, was lackluster and slowed the play, particularly following the hilarious and entertaining “Dance: Ten, Looks: Three” number by Val.
Overall, anyone who has been through an audition process, or even an interview for a job, can relate to the pain of just missing the cut, the relief and joy of being one of the select few to go onto the next round, and the unpredictability of the interview process that shakes your very core can truly empathize with these dancers. Often times we feel exposed, cast under a spotlight like Diana, played by Pilar Millhollen, who becomes anxious when asked the unforeseen question of “tell me about yourself…” rather than being asked to recite a scene from a play. We’ve all been in a situation like this, when we’ve had to explain to someone why we do what we do, why we dance, what got us started. Whether it was something you always knew you wanted to be like Maggie, played by Danielle Plisz, or someone who discovered a passion when given a scholarship to do something completely different like Richie, played by Max Kumangai. A Chorus Line resonates with the same power at Michael Bentley’s opening show on Broadway over thirty years ago. This is a show well worth the longer drive to the Marriott Theater in Lincolnshire, if only just for the show-stopping, closing number of “One.” The show runs through October 31st.