Theatre Mirror Reviews -"A Chorus Line"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2012 by Tony Annicone

"A Chorus Line"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Reagle Players first show of their 44th season is "A Chorus Line", the 1976 winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Book and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It is a musical based on the lives and experiences of Broadway dancers. Original director/choreographer Michael Bennett wanted to do a show with the spotlight on the class of performers known as the gypsies. The action takes place in an empty theatre, on a bare stage, where the casting for a new Broadway musical is almost complete. For 17 dancers it is a chance of a lifetime. It's the one opportunity to do what they have always dreamed of, not only to be the star but to get a job, to have the chance to dance. Through a series of interviews from funny to heartbreaking, it ushers the audience into the lives of these dancers until the final 8 are chosen. The original show opened on April 15, 1975 and ran 6,137 performances, closing on April 28, 1990. Director/choreographer Leslie Woodies, who starred as Cassie in the national and international tours of the original Broadway show, directs and recreates Michael Bennett's Tony Award-winning choreography. Leslie creates a topnotch version of this show with her talented cast and the fabulous musical direction of Dan Rodriguez and Jeff Leonard are the crowning touches to this show, creating a Broadway caliber show in Waltham, MA. Bravo.

This version of the show is performed without an intermission and it flows along beautifully. From the opening montage to the final kick line, the wonderful choreography comes forth one number after the other. Leslie does a superb job with this hard working cast. She blocks the show beautifully especially Paul's monologue where she has him moving around the stage instead of standing still. She makes the most of the comic moments with some of the one liners supplied by an uncredited Neil Simon as well as the comic songs "Dance 10" and "Sing". However it is her skill with the dramatic moments that stand out especially the confrontation between Zach and Cassie which is riddled with tension leaving you breathless at its impact. Also the gut wrenching, heartbreaking and stunning monologue by Paul finally being accepted by his father, and the emotionally draining "What I Did For Love" sequence that tugs at your heartstrings, giving the show its poignant backbone to fully satisfy the audience. Her assistant choreographer, Kirsten McKinney played Cassie for Leslie back in 2003. Dan and Jeff supply the musical direction for the show, having taught the cast the songs and leading a spectacular orchestra. They obtain splendid harmonization from the cast.

This talented cast is lead by Lorenzo Lamas as Zach, the director/choreographer of the show within a show. His physical presence onstage with the dancers and his strict omnipresent control of them, is topnotch as is his confrontation scene with Cassie and his consolation scene with Paul. Lorenzo handles the dramatic and comic scenes beautifully. Katie Clark plays Cassie wonderfully. Cassie is Zach's former girlfriend and he can't understand why she wants to return to the chorus line after 10 years. Zach confronts her about it and she explains her motives in the show stopping "The Music and The Mirror". This number displays Katie's excellent dancing skills. Her standout acting moment occurs when she stands up to Zach during the first version of "One". Jeremy Towle, a fantastic dancer plays Zach's assistant choreographer Larry beautifully in this show. Kerri Wilson plays Diana. She sings "Nothing" the comic song about Mr. Carp her awful improvisation teacher and the emotional anthem of the show, "What I Did for Love". The harmonic blend of the chorus soars in this number. Scott Abreau is wonderful as Paul. He is not only an excellent dancer but so his voice in "Who Am I Anyway?". He also delivers the heartbreaking monologue about being molested at the movies, eventually becoming a drag queen in the Jewel Box Theatre where Paul is seen by his parents on his closing night and is finally accepted by his father when he tells them to take care of his son. When he starts to cry, the audience chokes up and cries right along with him, which wins him thunderous applause at the close of this scene.

Bradley Jensen does a terrific job as Mike with the opening solo number called "I Can Do That" where he performs a tap dance. Mike explains how he took his sister's shoes to dance class one day and became the dancer in the family after that. One of the most comical performers in this show is Aimee Doherty as Sheila, the bitchy 30 year old diva. I last reviewed Aimee in her IRNE award winning performance in "Nine" last year. She has some of Neil Simon's best biting and cutting one liners, making them all hit pay dirt. Aimee also uses this sultry voice in her singing, too. She, Allison Russell as Maggie and Hannah Shihdanian as Bebe sing the touching number "At the Ballet" which tells about their tough family life while growing up and how they escaped from it at ballet class. Both of them show off their soprano voices in this song. Another hilarious role is Val played by Danielle Goldstein who sings and dances up a storm in her tits and ass number called "Dance 10, Looks 3". She is a gorgeous blonde and her strong belting voice soars out to the audience and her character's colorful language garners many laughs, too. The married couple Al and Kristine are well played by Philip daCosta and Maria LaRossa. Their song "Sing" is where the audience learns that Kristine can't sing so Al sings all her answers.

Other comic roles include Bobby played by Matt Uriniak who tells anecdotes about spray painting a friend silver and breaking into people's houses to rearrange the furniture, Greg played by Gavin Parmley who changed his name because he is Jewish and went through puberty with a hard on, Judy played by Lilly Balch who loses her number at the start of the show,Mark who is played by Connor Fallon is only 15 years old and is the youngest member of the cast. He has funny lines about gonorrhea and does a great job dancing, too. Two other cast members doing a good job are Amos Oliver as Richie, the basketball playing teacher-to-be and the shortest member of the line Connie played by Rachel Bertone. I last reviewed Rachel's outstanding choreography in "West Side Story". Daniel Sullivan plays Don, the married dancer who tells a funny story about a strip club with Lola, a stripper with big boobs. Kudos to everyone for making this a show to be extremely proud of. So for a fantastic rendition of this award winning show, be sure to catch "A Chorus Line" at Reagle Players before the cast dances out of town.

"A Chorus Line" (15 - 24 June)
@ 617 Lexington Street. WALTHAM MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide