ST. GEORGE — With a director boasting a nearly 25-year history with the show and a cast with the gumption to tackle the original Broadway choreography, A Chorus Line at The Stage Door has everything you need to create “one singular sensation.”
“It’s a beautiful masterpiece,” Director Venny Carranza said prior to the show.
The piece’s Pulitzer Prize and nine Tony awards, as well as its longevity on Broadway, serve to substantiate Carranza’s opinions about the work of original director and choreographer Michael Bennett, book by James Kirkwood Jr., and Nicholas Dante with music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban.
Locally, the tip of those glittery chorus line hats goes to Carranza as director and choreographer with music direction by Alice Ericksen.
Set in the middle of an audition for an upcoming Broadway production, A Chorus Line digs into what it’s like to be one of a throng of actors vying for a spot in a show. But then it goes deeper, tackling a wide range of weighty topics that may or may not be suitable for younger or more sensitive theater go-ers.
To the cast’s credit, from the moment the show opened it really felt like being a fly on the wall of an audition, with all the awe and awkwardness that entails.
One such awkward moment that may be unique to this particular production is the size of the stage compared to the size of the cast. A show that is meant to highlight dancing and movement needs room to breathe. As it was, the bodies are wall-to-wall, curtain-to-curtain and shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the entire show. Kudos to the cast for learning how to maneuver in such tight quarters, but it was, unfortunately, distracting at times, even when the full cast was whittled down to the main 17 dancers.
Spacing issues aside, the characters’ personalities did find a way to emerge, a process resulting from the probing questions asked by Zach, the director, played by Jake Thomas. As the dancers wrestle with how to answer his verbal intrusions, the introspection really becomes a journey for the audience, too. What do you choose to reveal about yourself? When should you do it? How much is too much?
Self-disclosure is a key component in any real-life relationship, and determining exactly what to share and how to do so is one of the poignant messages in the background of this play.
A Chorus Line is unique in the sense that it is a large cast, but it doesn’t necessarily qualify as an ensemble group. Each character is so unique, almost detached from the rest of the group—with the exception of the newly married couple Kristine (Emily Oram) and Al (Brayden Morgan) who play well together in the intriguing duet, “Sing!”
As each character reveals more about themselves, the play picks up steam, heading toward several noteworthy moments including Paul’s (Armando Serrano) monologue about his path to life on the stage. Up to that point, one might have been able to write off Paul’s character as a smaller role, but Serrano’s moving portrayal had me in the palm of his hand and serves as one of the highlights of the show.
Cassie’s (played by Megan Young) bold portrayal of a woman willing to stand up to the pressure of pursuing her dream led to a beautiful dance sequence and powerful vocal performance. However, it was Diana (McKenzie Morgan) who brought down the house with her version of “What I Did For Love.”
If you’re looking for a traditional musical with cheerful stories and resolved problems around every turn, look elsewhere. But if you want to stretch your mind, question your opinions and witness a talented cast as they peel back the layers of life, get your tickets to see A Chorus Line.