BWW Reviews: Eagle Theater's A CHORUS LINE is One Singular Sensation
The Eagle Theater in Hammonton NJ opens its 2013 Season with a refreshing, good-as-it gets production of A Chorus Line.
Most audience members know exactly what they're going to get: a heart-wrenching, brutally honest portrayal of competing chorus dancers vying for thankless parts in the ensemble of a splashy musical.
Director Ed Santiago and Assistant Director Joe Marrella have brought out all the passion of each dancer's individuality, making each a loving, well-defined portrait of a human being with all the hopes and dreams, problems and shames that everyone has but nobody ever sees.
A Chorus Line stands unadorned by flashy sets, costumes or special effects, relying on the power of story, music and movement. Dance moves are orchestrated by Broadway and International performer and choreographer Renee Chambers-Liciaga whose career spans over 30 years. Renee shares her philosophy; "the first bit of advice I share with my dancers is that they have passion and the 3 D's-determination devotion and discipline. The best advice I can give is to be you, do you and don't put a time or age limit on your dream and most importantly be adaptable, teachable and ready for anything at a moments notice".
A Chorus Line opened on Broadway in 1975 to widespread critical acclaim, and went on to become one of the longest-running musicals in Broadway history. Dancers' stories, dreams, and aspirations are told through such powerful and passionate songs such as "I Hope I Get It", "What I Did for Love, "At the Ballet" and "The Music and the Mirror".
The Eagle cast pulls you in with their personal stories and dazzles you with their moves. The spotlight shines on performers who earned their solos in the spotlight, including Kelly Boeckle as Diana, who belts with feeling for the ironically titled "Nothing" and who leads the company in "What I Did for Love." Former Miss New Jersey Erica Scanlon Harr is the show-stopping Cassie, singing and dancing her heart out for a chance to be on the line and perhaps reconnect with her former live-in love, the show's director Zach played by Greg Harr. It's not hard to pick up the chemistry between this real life husband and wife team!
Lauren Kerstetter, who as jaded veteran Sheila provided some laughs with her deceptively disdainful delivery, joined with Jessica Lynn Evans the soaring big-voiced Maggie in "At the Ballet," a song that zeros in on the lasting effects of distant fathers and out-of-touch mothers. Cory Wade Hindorff's (Paul) monologue on sexual identity and isolation breaks hearts with his tale of growing up gay in the 1970's which ends with the discovery about his parents' unconditional love.
Standout dancers Franklin Anthony and Anthony Mauriello as Richie and Mike also soar as this production is faithful to the original vision of director/conceiver/ choreographer Michael Bennett. All the movement is performed with great precision, as well as purposely highlighting the imperfections of the less experienced dancers. Adding to the compelling company is the effective use of lighting by Chris Miller and Brielle Martone. The production is based on the book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante; Music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban.
A Chorus Line will run at the Eagle Theatre 208 Vine Street in Hammonton, NJ with selected dates through Feb. 9. For tickets and more information call (609) 704-5012. Or visit www.TheEagleTheatre.com