Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Chorus Line"

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entire contents copyright 1997 by Don Gillis

"A Chorus Line"

Reviewed by Don Gillis

"A CHORUS LINE"

Conceived and Originally Directed and Choreographed by Michael Bennett
Book by: James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante
Music By: Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by: Edward Kleban

Co-Choreographed by Bob Avian
Directed and Choreographed by Jennifer Gillis
Musical Director G. Frank Meekins

Set Design & Mirror Design by Mark Anderson and Steve Pacheco
Lighting Design by Brian White and John O'Hern
Costumes by Patricia Plante, Sew Biz Industries
Stage Manager Paul E. Adam

Musicians:
Raymond Vaguener, Seth Mandeville, Dwight Allenson, Elaine D'Allesandro,
Todd Conner, Mark McKinnon, Nathan Melhorn, Stuart and Kathi Britton,
Henry Hebert, Brian Grochowski, Phil Cloutier

Zach/Director/Choreographer...........Ralph Petrarca
Linda (Zach's Assistant).............Sheila DiSarro
Don...................................Peter Fournier
Maggie..................................Leslie Allen
Mike...................................Gregory Bonin
Connie..................................Stacy Harris
Greg..................................Steven Pacheco
Cassie.................................Donna Vescera
Sheila.............................Sheila M. Ribeiro
Bobby...............................Andrew G. Bobola
Bebe..............................Kimberly A. Thomas
Judy..................................Melanie Amaral
Richie................................Gregory Gillis
Al.......................................Jason Ereio
Kristine................................Susan Denice
Val..................................Shannon Martley
Mark...............................Michael Shurtleff
Paul...................................Duane Langley
Diana...............................Nicole R. Dufour
Vicki................................Sara Anne Booth
Tricia.................................Melissa Samel
Frank................................Michael Johnson


I'm biased.
It's no accident that Gregory Gillis has the same name as I do --- he's my son. And he's married to the director. I love them both, and I think they're both very talented. But I've also seen a lot of theater and done a lot of theater, and if I hated "A Chorus Line" I'd say so, then I'd invite them over for dinner and we'd talk about it.

Luckily, I didn't hate it.

A CHORUS LINE is about dancers, overdedicated, underpaid, highly trained performers who back up the star. Its about how they got into "show business", why they became dancers, what their hopes, fantasies and aspirations are. These dancers are auditioning for a new Broadway musical....they all "need this job". There are twenty-two semi-finalists, which thins down to the final seventeen. They and the audience know that eventually this number will be cut and the director (Zach) will choose only four boys and four girls to be in his new musical. Instead of having them read a short audition scene, Zach wants to elicit a personal history from each one. As he call upon them individually, they react in every possible way, from bravado to reticence. From childhood on, their memories emerge, blending into a seamless series of musical numbers and monologues.

Michael Bennett's concepts, choreography, and direction is no easy task for any community theater group to tackle. But Theatre Works director, Jennifer Gillis, making her directorial debut, has achieved her "ultimate dream" --- a brilliant and wonderfully entertaining portrayal of Bennett's "concept". The "performers" in this show are not professionally trained dancers ,but watching this show you would think they had been dancing most of their lives....much to the credit of Jennifer (who has been a dancer since age four).

The company warmed the audience with their singing, acting and portrayals of themselves, as Zach pressured them to be "themselves". Some of the standout performances , in my opinion, were Mike (Gregory Bonin) who sings about his experience when he goes to his sister's dance class and sings and taps (I CAN DO THAT).

A comic number by Al (Jason Ereio) and Kristine (Susan Denise) singing "SING" had the audience giving them a rousing applause after they finished their number. The chemistry between them was just right.

NOTHING (Diana) sung by Nicole R. Dufour and her rendition of WHAT I DID FOR LOVE" was especially well done.

The Montage Part 4 has Richie (Gregory Gillis) singing Gimme the Ball, Gimme the Ball , SHIT RICHIE, and his facial expressions and body movements prompted audience reaction as Greg danced and sang with a comic look on this face saying he is going to be a kindergarten teacher (SHIT) -with no scholarship to life. His performance won a rousing applause at the end of his number.

DANCE: TEN LOOKS: THREE ( Val).... decides to grab her dance card and on a scale of ten They gave her: For dance: ten For looks: three.. Well ! Shannon Martley performed as she explained how she went and had "major surgery" on her vital body parts (tits and ass), which finally prompted someone in show business to look at her.

THE MUSIC AND THE MIRROR (Cassie) sung and danced by Donna Vescera was especially entertaining. I loved her expressions and her confrontations with Zach (her former lover). Her singing was outstanding and her dance number was wonderful to watch. The dialogue between her and Zach about getting her job back was especially tender and moving.

A highlight of the evening occurs when Paul (Duane Langley) spills his guts out to Zach about his past, which he is ashamed of. When he is explaining about his family relationships (especially with his father) and his experiences in the theatre district in New York, as a young boy in the movie theaters, he touches the audience with a compassion that one will remember for a long time.

The finale (ONE), is an outstanding piece of choreography. The costuming and lighting, and a special large A CHORUS LINE sign that lights up top middle stage at the end, really grabs your attention, as you see the gold costumes and the lights flashing against the mirrors, with the ensemble doing the famous rockettes kicks all with precision timing. It was ONE SINGULAR SENSATION that made the audience give them a standing ovation!

"A Chorus Line" (till September 21st)
THEATRE WORKS AUDITORIUM
The First Universalist Church, 78 Earle Street, WOONSOCKET, RHODE ISLAND
1(401)769-3048
Check their website

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