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A Chorus Line - musical review


The gruelling conditions regarding the arts industry are rarely discussed, but their prominence remains. Despite A Chorus Line originating in 1975 when amidst Broadway struggles, many of the reoccurring concepts of performer unemployment and mistreatment (to name just a few) are still prevalent today. Set in the rehearsal studios, littered with enthusiastic young bodies that dream of being in the spotlight, the reflection of hope bounces off each mirror as the talent begins to seep into anxiety. Undergoing a tough selection process, each unique personality must give all they can to earn their place on stage. Seventeen must be whittled down to just eight - will it be a make or break?

As anticipated, the choreography is the backbone of the production and Ellen Kane's work brings the intricate routines to life. The spacing and technique demonstrate the strong ability of the cast to express their dance skills and specific execution that would not necessarily be displayed if not the focus of the show. Alongside this, the individual characterisation brings an array of identities in true theatrical style. From sassy to sweet, flirty to funny; annoying to ambitious, they are introduced one by one, announcing their attributes and reasoning for this shared goal they so deeply aspire for. The line-up of aspiring stars includes Jocasta Almgill, Lydia Bannister, Bradley Delarosbel, Archie Durrant, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Joshua Lay, Katie Lee, Mireia Mambo, Kanako Nakano, Manuel Pacific, Kate Parr, Rachel Jayne Picar, Redmand Rance, Chloe Saunders, Toby Seddon, Amy Thornton and Louie Wood. Taking on the role of Zach, the blunt and uncharismatic director hosting the audition, is Adam Cooper, with Ashley-Jordan Packer as his lead dancer.

Grace Smart's set design is simple yet effective, particularly with Howard Hudson's aesthetic lighting choices, which give the desired look for both bright and bold or more subtle tones. Costumes by Edd Lindley correspond to the nature of each person, with the closing scenes spectacularly matching in glitz. Using handheld camera work was an interesting decision in a bid to add an extra dimension, but it is always a risky move: some technical issues briefly distracted from the purpose and it wasn't overly impactful, though a few enhancements when focusing on specific individuals or sequences.

Music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban enjoyably complement the routines and keep the excitement and movement of the piece when in full force, working well with Nikolai Foster's direction on occasion. However, since Michael Bennett has created a piece using genuine testimonies from dancers, it is a great shame it lacks elevation to provide a richer insight into the emotional turmoil they convey. With almost two hours to fill and no interval, the energy and vibrancy dip, particularly in a section of 1:1 conversation which would typically appear after a break. Details arise that are not previously presented, thus disallowing these narratives to reach their full potential, and truly emotional encounters go amiss. It often touches on weighty themes but doesn't give any gravitas to them. Thankfully pulling back for an epic finale, it is unfortunate that the quality from the beginning of the production isn't translated consistently throughout.

Overall, there is a collection of positive aspects to this current touring run of A Chorus Line, seeing the passion of performers shine through, even with hardship, but there are sadly several downfalls that restrict the success of the production as a whole. However, for some excellent choreography, an appealing score and a cast that makes great use of what they're given, it is worth seeing what you think for yourself.


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