Friday, May 11, 2007

A Chorus Line - Everyone felt something and I felt nothing, well sorta.

I had never seen the original production of A Chorus Line. During the time of its' 15 year run musical theater didn't really play a big role in my life, for whatever that means. So in order to expose myself to a piece of Broadway history I attended a performance of the current revival at the Schoenfeld Theatre and I have to say that my expectations were much grander than what was delivered.

The evening started out with my friend and I being talked down to by this horrible usher who told us he would give us programs only after we sat down. I had no idea what this idiot's deal was, but I was not going to let it negatively impact my evening, I had 2 hours of A Chorus Line to do that.

Overall, the show itself was entertaining and interesting enough but the cast and the performance struck me as amateur. I don't believe it is a $110.00/ticket, Broadway worthy show.

I'm thinking that the whole purpose behind reviving A Chorus Line is rooted in its nostalgia factor. I think this production is probably more for theatre patrons who have seen and enjoyed the original. I got the impression that most of the audience was rather familiar with the show and they seemed to really enjoy it.

There are some aspects of this show that to me, just seem dated. For one, I think the whole sleazy 42nd street theatre plot line would be lost on anyone who hasn't been on 42nd street before 1995. Let's face it, Disney is the only person turning tricks on 42nd street these days. Some of the music sounded dated as well. There were several points where closing your eyes and just listening may confuse you into thinking the show stopped and a car chase scene from a Charlie's Angel episode started. The world of musical theater where A Chorus Line is set, in 1975, is a world where AIDS does not exist. Although I dislike stereotypes there is a possiblilty that because a huge part of this show is about Broadway performers discussing how they have been affected by life, it may be slightly unrealistic to think that in 2007 none of them have been impacted by HIV.

I did not find any of the cast to have remarkable vocal ability and some of them were just not good. I thought Natalie Cortez, who played Diana, was probably the best and she sings the 2 best songs,"Nothing" and "What I Did for Love". Perhaps the producers were just trying to be authentic and went for a true chorus line; talented dancers and no singing ability. Again, not what you want to hear for a $110.00/ticket Broadway MUSICAL.

Normally the combination of dancers and mirrors is a win win situation, such as in the recent revival of 42ND Street and Renee Zellweger's "Roxie" in the "Chicago" film. But alas "The Music and the Mirror" was less than impressive. When the semi-circle of mirrors lowered onto the stage I had high hopes, but the song and dance ended without the proverbial bang. Perhaps the viewpoint from where I was sitting did not allow me to experience the full effect, either way it was a letdown.

There were things about the show I liked. Several of the characters and stories were genuinely entertaining, funny and poignant. As far as laughs and emotion go, I think the actors were effective in their ability to get the most out of the audience they could based on the material they had to work with. I liked the evolution of the dancers from uncoordinated individuals at the beginning into a cohesively synchronized unit at the end. It was very apparent that dancing was the strong point of the cast. I think there is probably a certain amount of skill needed for a really good dancer to appear out of step and time.

In todays age of the "massive" Broadway Musical it is possible to succeed without huge sets and costume changes. The revival of "Chicago" and the recent "Sweeney Todd" revival, 2 shows that are/were more of a concert performance, are proof that a show can be a success and be highly entertaining without being a huge production. Substance and artistry themselves can carry a show but I didn't find great amount of either of them in A Chorus Line. Without the big production, I guess I was left with less than I expected. A 15 year run on Broadway certainly implies that a show was something remarkable and fantastic. (In order to prove the fallacy in that statement I'll just say "Cats"). I think this production of A Chorus Line fell short of the mark. With some reworking however, A Chorus Line has the potential to appeal to a whole new legion of fans and be something fantastic once again.

Schoenfeld Theatre

236 West 45th Street
New York, NY 10036
Tickets: 212-239-6200
or 800-432-7250

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