I am one of the lucky people who got to see A Chorus Line during its original run on Broadway. Well into its original run, certainly, but a Broadway mainstay in that era for a reason. I can say without a doubt that the version running now at Drury Lane in many ways compares favorably to the Broadway production I saw so many years ago.
To begin with, the dancing is excellent. Many of the best dancers in Chicago theatre are in this production and it shows. Everyone on that stage is really good and it shines in every step of every bit of choreography. If you love good dancing, you’re in for a treat. Standouts include Sam Linda as Mike and Christopher Kelly as Mark.
The singing is not quite equally strong, but it’s good. Exceptional singers include, thankfully, Yesy Garcia as Diana, who has two numbers and makes you listen to them like you’re hearing them for the first time. TJ Tapp as Bebe has a soaring soprano that adds shimmering excellence to At the Ballet and other ensemble pieces, and together with Alexandra Palkovic as Sheila and Alley Ellis as Maggie they make that number a showstopper. Jordon Taylor as Kristine with Trey DeLuna as Al are wonderful in Sing, which is a totally difficult feat to pull off and which they do with perfect comedy timing and absolute hilarity.
But where this production is totally brilliant is in the acting.
A Chorus Line is a meaty, emotional show. Every single person on that line is given at least one opportunity to stand out, and in this production, stand out they do. Every single one of them. They’re all so good at portraying their characters that it’s almost hard to pull anyone out for special praise, but I’m going to name a few. Melody Rowland as Judy makes an impact from the moment she forgets her number in the first scene, and is utterly adorkable throughout. Alexandra Palkovic puts Sheila’s trauma out front and leads with the chip on her shoulder. And someone put a quarter in Sawyer Smith because they were off the hook as Bobby and need to be given all the comedy. Sara Andreas as Cassie and Ryan Watkinson as Zach do a terrific job in their respective roles and with working out their characters’ shared history and issues. And they couldn’t have cast anyone better than Martin Oritz Tapia as Paul, the beating heart of the show. He was superb.
Lighting, sound and costume design were excellent. A nice homage to the originals from 1975. I did miss the payoff of the gold costumes in the end. I don’t know why they were changed to silver, but they are gorgeous, especially the sparkly tights on the girls.
There is one major disappointment, and having seen it as originally staged on Broadway, The Music and the Mirror has been an absolute showstopper always. It’s the proof that Cassie is exceptional. And this one falls really flat and feels boring. I’m not sure what was wrong as I’m not a dancer, but it felt like a lot of the movements weren’t coordinated with the musical beats for the dance section of the song. It was slightly off and not crisp and on beat like everything else in the show was. It’s possible it was just the one performance I saw and will be corrected.
But that’s one disappointment in an otherwise excellent show. And A Chorus Line has always been about the whole show and the whole ensemble. This one has an incredible group of people up on that stage and clearly behind the scenes and you should go see them do their work.
Photos by Brent Beiner.
Is the vulgarity necessary? Homosexual talk constantly? Gonorrhea talk not necessary to produce a good show. Too much. No wonder our youth is so dysfunctional and psychologically damegaed, on medication and suicidal.