Friday, January 05, 2007

A Chorus Line: One Singular Sensation

The premise of A Chorus Line is simple. A hodgepodge group of dancers meet and audition to be in the chorus line of an upcoming show. The set is simple: a white line that runs horizontally across the front of the stage where the dancers line up; floor to ceiling mirrors along the back; and a distracting light bulb encrusted backdrop used in the finale that reminded me of the NBC peacock, only ugly. Throughout, they practice snippets of a routine that will eventually be performed in this show's finale.

Along the way, we meet the dancers and get their back stories. Each one's life has presented them with a unique path up until this point. There are always stand-out performances at every show. Jeffrey Schecter, who plays the character of Mike, was incredible with his singing and dancing. His presence drew my eyes to him whenever he was on stage. Chryssie Whitehead plays the character of Kristine, part of the married couple, and her comedic talents steal the show!

The biggest disappointment is the dance sequence performed by Cassie, the lady in red who's built up to be "too good for the chorus." Yet her solo performance always makes me wonder if she's good enough for the chorus. I can't blame the actresses since I've had the same feeling each time I've see A Chorus Line. It's uninteresting choreography paired with lackluster music.

Overall, I love the show and this performance was very good. Beware, though, the tickets are pricey and it's too new to be available at a discount through TKTS.

This made the fourth time I've seen this show. I've probably seen a hundred shows over the years but this is still my all-time favorite. Way back in 1981, I saw a touring company at Proctor's Theater in Schenectady, NY. It was my first experience at live musical theater and I've been hooked ever since. We were cramped in the second to last row of the top tier but the music was plenty loud. In fact, that's one of the great things I remember about the performance. Like turning up the volume listening to your favorite song and "One" was spectacular.

The characters' life stories spoke to me. They had experiences that I'd never heard anyone speak about. There were three (three!) openly gay men in the show! There were people like me in the world. Maybe not in little ol' upstate NY, but they were out there nonetheless. That was quite a revelation. Perhaps this is why the show's my favorite...a great story, great music, and a bit of self-awakening nostalgia all rolled into one.

Next was shortly after the opening of the beautiful Segerstrom Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA in 1989. This was a great performance but our seats weren't so hot. We were on the far left aisle in the third tier and couldn't see two of the characters. I was excited, though, just to see the show again and get a glimpse inside the new venue.

The third time was at the Terrace Theatre at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center in Long Beach, CA in 1998. I took a friend who was not into theater at all but he was completely won over. We were in the front row center of the balcony. In this theater, the balcony is quite far from the stage but being in front made up for all the distance.

The show is playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The place has seen better days but I enjoyed its relatively small size which provided the most intimate experience I've ever had for this show.

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