Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Chorus Line – Curran Theatre, San Francisco – One Singular Sensation!

Moves to Broadway's Schoenfeld Theatre on Sept. 18th, Opening Oct 5th 2006.

“Dance 10, Looks 3” (+ I’ll add another 7!), Acting 8, Singing 7. Overall: 10

The new revival of A Chorus Line is supposedly pretty much a replicate of the 1975 original 15-year-long running show, down to the costumes, however, since I never saw it, I can’t say how it compares. What I can say is that this new version, with a fresh new handpicked cast, and directed by original choreographed by Bob Avian based on Michael Bennett’s original conception, and with choreography from original cast member Baayork Lee, is that A Chorus Line certainly lives up to its history and previous long running status. I certainly have reservations about the publics opinions when Cats and Phantom of the Opera became the longest running shows overtaking A Chorus Line, however at least I now fully understand why A Chorus Line became one of the first mega-running musicals of all time.

Not relying any dropping chandeliers, helicopters and dancing cats, A Chorus Line is an old style big dancing show, with an intimate (still) modern look at the dancers life.

A Chorus Line follows a bunch of dancers in the gruelling process of an audition for a Broadway show under the careful scrutiny of god-like director Zach and his assistant Larry.

It’s amazing how simple the story of watching artists attempting to strive for their dream works everytime. In our day and age of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, other than a joke or two about Jill St. John and some 70’s style costumes (which in our retro-wear days, doesn’t look all that unfashionable anyways), the story of ACL is timeless and universal and avoids the crush of all revivals, being dated.

The new cast is simply wonderful, and I couldn’t figure out where to start looking as it all looked amazing under the brilliant lighting design on the simplicity of a bare stage flanked at times by mirrors pointing right back out to the audience. Songs enhance the story and the dancing (as opposed to the 1985 movie version where they seemed to get lost under the weight of Michael Douglas’ booming directors voice) as they are all supposed to. The classic beat of “ONE” that we all subliminally know at this point continues to threaten the dancers with the impending final picks (4 and 4… 4 girls and 4 boys, sorry Sheila, no women needed), and makes the simple audition process all the more moving as the dancers are forced to spill out their most deepest and innermost emotions and thoughts to the voice of Michael Berresse (The Light in the Piazza) as Zach.

Jason Tam as Paul is simply heartbreaking (and probably on the way to a Featured Actor nomination at next years Tony’s), Deidre Goodwin, who I have seen before in Chicago as Velma Kelly, is pitch perfect as the older and wiser Sheila.

Newcomers Jessica Lee Goldyn as Val with her “tits and ass”, Alisan Porter (Curly Sue all grown up!) as Bebe and Natalie Cortez as Diana are a joy to watch.

Tony Yasbeck and Chryssie WhiteheadSING?” really hilariously together as married dancers Al and Kristine. James T. Lane as Richie and Jeffrey Schecter burst with energy.

I only wish Brad Anderson (as Don), Ken Alan (as Bobby), Yuka Takara (as Connie) and Michael Pasternostro (as Greg) could have had even more lines and songs, but alas, that’s the life of a dancer, and half the point of the piece, that in the end, they need to all blend into one chorus line as One Singular Sensation, and alas, that the show it was! See you on Broadway because I have GOT to see this again!

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