Photo: courtesy of Orpheus Musical Theatre
This is the emblematic hit Broadway musical which stages the work taking place within the chorus line before the curtain rises on the Broadway show! Showing the audition process is a fascinating concept. It brings us into the workings of musical theatre, stripping away the drama, the glitz and the glamour by taking us into the disappointments, the heartbreak, the tough work, the anxiety, the personal encounters that have led to the final moment in front of the choreographer who will finally decide who stays and who goes.
The show has a huge cast of 28 actors some playing several roles. They include ballet dancers, tap dancers, strippers, singers, actors, comedians, serious actors but most of them dance and sing, especially the individuals vying for spots on the chorus line. The task is daunting and because each dancer takes on a special meaning within the show, A Chorus line depends on excellent performances from each member of the cast, especially those who have solo numbers or who are dancing in small groups.
Several individuals stood out last Sunday afternoon at Centrepointe theatre. Andréa Black as the sexy, vivacious Val singing her famous solo emphasizing her outstanding body parts was a moment that made us forget where we were. She is such a consummate professional performer that she outshone everyone else. I also felt that Morgan Coughlan as Mike the tap dancer came on to the audience with a great ease and flow that also created a sense that he was at the top of his dancing form and belonged in the show. Jack MacDougall as Paul definitely has much talent as an actor and that comes across very strongly, as did Rebecca Tekle as Diana who seemed to have much acting talent but who needs more voice training. However, in most of the other cases the performances were not particularly noteworthy and seemed to bring the general level of this Chorus line down a few notches.
All the ballet numbers were particularly weak. Most of the other dancers did not appear to have much dance training and the voices were unequal or were untrained and did not know how to execute the numbers in a satisfactory way. No doubt the most questionable performance was that of Cassie by Christa Cullain who was supposed to be a professional dancer coming down to the level to the general chorus line because she wanted to dance, all that for very personal reasons which are made clear in the script. However, it was soon very clear that Ms. Cullain could not sustain the illusion of what she pretended to be on stage and I had the distinct impression that the choreography was simplified so that she was able to perform her number correctly. I wonder if choreographer Derek Eyamie whom I greatly admire as an actor, was really up to the challenge of this gruelling show that demanded perfect control over his dancers. Somehow I felt he might have been in over his head. I know that Orpheus Musical Theatre is a community theatre but it has given us some excellent shows that are as good as any show one could see. This one unfortunately was not one of those experiences.
The music is exciting, the numbers are just as exciting but without the pizazz and the high energy of a super strong dancing and singing cast, this show falls flat on its face. I`m afraid that is what happened at the Sunday matinee.
A Chorus Line continues until March 13 at Centrepointe theatre.