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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 19 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 38
Still ONE Singular Sensation
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Still ONE Singular Sensation

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

A CHORUS LINE
5TH AVENUE THEATRE
September 3-28


The musical A Chorus Line is iconic. The visual image of lined up dancers all dressed in iridescent gold has now become one of the most recognizable scenes from the centuries of theater on stage. Being one of the eight musicals to ever win the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for drama, the musical also won nine Tony Awards including Best Musical. This classic show kicked its way onto the stage at the 5th Avenue Theatre earlier this month and proves it is still a 'Singular Sensation.'

The storyline is based on real, actual recordings of dancers discussing their lives in and around performance on stage. For the show, seventeen dancers have made the final cut of a brutal cattle call audition for a new dance musical on Broadway. Instead of watching them dance over and over with a slow elimination process, the show's director, Zach decides he wants something different. He wants to get to know each of them on a personal level. Over the next two hours, each of the seventeen has a moment to bare their innermost secrets and stand exposed, comically or completely raw, before all the rest in hopes of landing this job of a Broadway gypsy. There are stories of desperation, parental abandonment, self-image issues, and, of course, sexual identity in every form. But most of all there is the united sense of putting everything aside for the one true love of their lives - dancing on stage.

There is no real star of this show, although there is a side storyline romance between one of the dancers, Cassie (Chryssie Whitehead), and the director, Zach (Andrew Palermo). Each of the seventeen dancers gets a moment to shine with singing, dancing or both. And each one delivers. From montage scenes such as 'Goodbye 12, Goodbye 13, Hello Love' where multi-cast members relate the excitement, embarrassment, and elation of going through puberty, to the hauntingly remorseful, 'At the Ballet,' where a trio reminisce the pains of recognizing parental infidelities and the dreamlike escapes of dancing. Comical numbers such as 'I Can Do That,' and the famously misnamed song, 'Dance 10 - Looks 3,' are all done well. But let's get real, the audience comes for the dancing and they are not disappointed. From the opening number of hopeful wishes, 'I Hope I Get It' to the final toe-tapping finale, 'One,' the dancing is on step and kicked high! It is exactly what you want from a chorus line; no one steals focus, they dance beautifully in unison, and work with each other in a well-oiled design.

When the incomparable Michael Bennett sat down with a group of gypsies for several bull sessions in early 1974, he never dreamed it would be considered the quintessential blueprint for Broadway dancers. Eight of the dancers would eventually be cast to play shadows of themselves in the original Broadway cast when A Chorus Line opened in New York.

A Chorus Line boasts a musical score by the late Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, and a book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante. It opened on Broadway on July 25, 1975 and there it remained, breaking all long-running records, until April 28, 1990. Nominated for 12 Tony Awards it won nine including Best Musical. A Broadway revival opened October 5, 2006 and ran for just shy of two years. The 1985 musical movie by the same name starred Michael Douglas as Zach and Terrence Mann as Larry, his dance captain assistant. The film took large liberties with the storyline and the songs that were added/removed from the original production. It is considered a 'Guilty Pleasure' kind of film.

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