ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
A Chorus Line
Hamilton, who joined everyone on stage for the finale, was part of choreographer/director Michael Bennett’s original taped group of dancers. She was the inspiration for Val and played that role in the London production and later on Broadway. But it's the work that she did in inspiring sensational performances from every member of the company that all future audiences will experience during the run.
There is no question that this Chorus Line continues to give us a rare glimpse into the hearts, minds, and even the bodies of the dancers we take for granted in show after show. It works best when we can feel responsive to the passionately shared personal life-stories of dancers. When all the stories jell, and when all the dancing excels, it becomes an emotional experience that has no equal in American musical theater. Even for those who don’t feel much rapport with the difficulties that mark the life of the dancers, in show business called “gypsies,” this musical goes way beyond feeling like a music and dance-propelled group therapy session.
Amazingly, the funny/sad stories weave as effectively through Hamlisch’s best score (with dynamic lyrics by Edward Kleban), as do the dance sequences, all of which have a dramatic thrust. So much has been written about this show l that I will just share the one that really lifted this production into the extraordinary.
Except for the impact of the original production, I don’t recall since then ever having been so wrenchingly involved before with the difficult relationship between Cassie ((electrifyingly danced by Jessica Lee Goldyn) and former lover choreographer Zach (a wonderfully blunt and callous, replete with a distinctly British accent Martin Harvey). Goldyn, who played Val in the 2006 Broadway revival ( review) is possibly more heartbreakingly earnest than anyone else I've seen in this role as the dancer who once wanted to become a star and now wants desperately to get this job in the chorus (“I’d be proud to be one of them”).
The success of this A Chorus Line, perhaps even more than the last Broadway revival, has to be measured by the effectiveness of its individual performers as well as its collective brilliance. Tall, shapely and a knockout looker Rachelle Rak comes on strong, funny and desperate as the “almost 30” Sheila. Gabrielle Ruiz certainly put over the slightly insecure tennis shoe-tapping Diane, but sent the hit ballad “What I Did for Love,” soaring into the rafters.
It’s difficult to say exactly why each of the twenty six characters seems to have a more persuasive and psychologically compelling presence. Let’s attribute it to sheer talent, and to director Hamilton who knew how to bring Michael Bennett’s original direction and choreography and the conception of the characters as written by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, into high relief. The use of overhead mirrors has also never been more effective as they are in reflecting the dancers in the classic setting as designed by James Dardenne (based on original design by Robin Wagner). Bravo to sound designer Randy Hanson for not distorting the sound of the singers or the terrific orchestra under the direction of John O’Neill.
It is worth noting that among the alumni who participated in the finale were Scott Allen, Kelly Bishop, Priscilla Lopez from the original production.
For a song list, see See Curtainup's previous Paper Mill Playhouse review.
Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show
Slings & Arrows-the complete set
You don't have to be a Shakespeare aficionado to love all 21 episodes of this hilarious and moving Canadian TV series about a fictional Shakespeare Company