note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Sheila Barth
The stage is darkened. Suddenly, spotlights shine, one by one, on 19 dancers standing in a row, holding head shots in front of their faces. They’re hoping they get a part in the Broadway show for which they’re auditioning. The audience applauds approvingly as Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s production of “A Chorus Line” opens, led by director-choreographer Leslie Woodies, (who portrayed lead role Cassie on Broadway). Music Director Dan Rodriguez, conductor Jeffrey P. Leonard and the orchestra are one singular sensation throughout this production. Theatergoers’ applause grows louder when movie-stage-TV star, director Lorenzo Lamas strides across the stage as perfectionist director Zach.
For the next two uninterrupted hours, theatergoers are voyeurs in this hard-hitting, gut-wrenching, nerve-wracking audition that introduces and separates each character and his/her talent, while infusing their stream of consciousness about their sexual, parental and emotional hang-ups.
Regardless of how many times theatergoers have seen the Pulitzer Prize, Tony, and New York Drama Critics Circle award-winning musical, every production brings its own charm to the stage, and Reagle is no exception. Although Lorenzo as Zach barks orders and is especially tough on dancer Cassie, he brings a softer, more caring and understanding side here. And always-delightful Aimee Doherty as 30-year-old dancer Sheila strides around with confidence, sass and attitude that’s show-stopping. When Zach tells Sheila to drop the attitude and be herself, she reveals a wounded psyche but determination to keep on dancing for as long as she can.
This one-act play set in a Broadway theater in 1975 focuses on these young ambitious hopefuls, but some are hampered by wavering self-esteem. They all need this job, they chant, and dance their hearts out in the opening number, “I Hope I Get It,” and “One”. Zach is hampered too. He can only select eight dancers - four females and four males - for the chorus line. Scott Abreu of Waltham evokes tears and Zach’s tender side as Paul, a Puerto Rican gay cross-dressing performer from the Bronx, who uses an Italian name, hoping for success. However, Plymouth’s Kerri Wilson as Diana, an alleged toughie from Paul’s Puerto Rican neighborhood, is likable, but less credible. Wilson’s voice lacks star power in the show’s hit solo, “What I Did for Love”.
Also disappointing is Katie Clark of Medford, whose acting is fine as 32-year-old Cassie, a dancer who formerly was Zach’s live-in lover and whom he thought had star power. She says after she left him, she failed miserably in California. Even though Zach carps at her, his knife-like tones slicing her bruised self-ego, her gritty self-awareness stands tall against his withering criticism. He accuses her of debasing herself while trying out for the chorus line, but she insists that’s where she belongs. Although Clark throws herself completely into the show’s longest, most dramatic dance number, “The Music and the Mirror,” her skill doesn’t measure up.
In contrast to this bitter ex-couple, Philip daCosta of Framingham and Stoneham’s Maria LaRossa are adorable as auditioning married couple Al and Kristine, providing comic relief in their number, “Sing!” Al finishes Kristine’s sentences, and spurs on her dancing, while she blurts out sour notes, proving she really can’t sing a note.
Several others in the line stand out, too, such as Danielle Goldstein of Boston as Val, who’s had lots of plastic surgery, and struts her stuff in “Dance:Ten;Looks:Three;” and Cambridge’s Rachel Bertone as petite dancer, Connie; Stoneham’s Allison Russell as Maggie; and Boston Conservatory student Matthew Michael Urinak as Bobby.
The show’s dazzling gold, high-stepping finale is triumphant.
BOX INFO: One-act, two-hour musical, book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kelban; starring Lorenzo Lamas,appearing to June 24 with the Reagle Theatre of Greater Boston, Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington St., Waltham. Performances:Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; June 23, at 3,7:30 p.m.; Sunday, at 2 p.m. Tickets, $54,$46,$40,$34; seniors, $3 off; youths, 5-18, $20; group discounts for 10 or more. Check for early bird summer subscriptions through June 24. Call 781-891-5600 or visit www.reaglemusictheatre.com; groups, call 781-894-2330 or 781-891-5600.