A CHORUS LINE at the Signature Theatre - Dance: 10, Looks, 10, Show: 10 !!!!!!!
While you may have seen the original Broadway cast 44 years ago at the Shubert Theatre (I was fortunate to see it), or a revival, I do not believe you have ever seen A CHORUS LINE in such a small intimate setting (Signature's Max theatre holds just 275 people) with such a talented cast. You may even be hit with sweat coming off the actors in the front row.
Signature Theatre's Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer states in the program they had to obtain special permission to do entirely new staging and choreography. He added..., "it will truly be A CHORUS LINE like you've never seen before - and completely reinvented in the Signature style.
It is one singular sensation. That's all I need to say.
What a dream team Signature Theatre's Associate Artistic Director Matthew Gardner has assembled. He directs with empathy and expertise. Tony-nominated Denis Jones shines in his role as the Choreographer. There is dynamic lighting by Adam Honore, great period costumes by Sarah Cubbage. I did think it was curious that some male actors wore sneakers for their auditions. Most were dance shoes. Jason Sherwood did the iconic Scenic Design. I do wish there was a full mirror for the big 11 o'clock number "The Music and the Mirror". Ryan Hickey did the great Sound Design.
So crucial to the success of this production is the music and Jon Kalbfleisch once again shines as Music Director. You can't see the fabulous 10 piece band. They are hidden in the dress circle behind the stage.
It is a musical about the making of a musical, It celebrates not the stars of a show but the anonymous who make up the chorus. A CHORUS LINE is great because it redefined and saved the American musical. (Oskar Eustis p.11 CD Book).
This was the first Broadway show for composer Marvin Hamlisch (died August 6, 2012) and lyricist Edward Kleban (died Dec. 28, 1987). The original show was directed and choreographed by the great Michael Bennett (who died July 2, 1987).
It won the Pulitzer Prize, and nine Tonys, including Best Musical, two for Bennett (choreography and direction), score, book, and cast members Donna McKechnie, Sammy Williams, Carole (Kelly) Bishop. These three nobodies, the actors who performed in back of a star were finally recognized.
The original production ran for 15 years which was the record for Broadway until CATS.
Seventeen hopefuls audition for a Broadway show, will be cut down to eight, four boys and four girls.
The audience applauded as soon as the curtain rose showing theses seventeen actor/singer/dancers on the line for the audition.
The superb Matthew Risch plays "Zach" who will make the choices (Robert LuPone, Patti's brother) and desires to know each applicant's life story. He spends most of the show in the audience with a table and microphone talking to each dancer as they describe their own lives. Playing his assistant "Larry" is Joshua Buscher who teaches the dance steps at the audition.
There are of course tremendous songs including "I Can Do That" (the terrific Trevor Michael Schmidt), "The Music and the Mirror" (the talented Emily Tyra), "Nothing"(the superb Samantha Marisol Gershman), and "Dance: Ten, Looks: Three (the marvelous Adena Ershow).
A comedic number "Sing" was done brilliantly by Elise Kowalick and Vincent Kempski.
Jeff Gorti plays "Paul" and his monologue was the first time a proud gay man had told his truth in a Broadway musical (RobertViagas p. 6 CD Book)
My most favorite number is "At the Ballet" sung by "Sheila" (Maria Rizzo), "Bebe ( Jillian Wessel) and "Maggie" (Kayla Pecchioni). They were all superb. The audience gave a sustained ovation. I truly teared up due to my recollection of my daughter playing the role of "Maggie" when she was only a teenager and performed the part at Catonsville Community College.
The production is performed in only one act with no intermission and lasts about two hours. There is no curtain call. I implore you, the audience, to stand and applaud at the reprise of "One/Finale". They so deserve it. There is not even a salute to the lights, sound, and orchestra. That is the way it was written.
It is an emotional roller-coaster of a show.
The CD for sale at the theater (which I am listening to at the moment) is about $20 and is worth it. It celebrates the 40th Anniversary (51 minutes of music) and includes 8 bonus tracks sung by Hamlisch and Kleban
A few years ago subscribers were asked which show would they most like to see at Signature. A CHORUS LINE was by far the most popular. A wise choice. Well, you got your wish!!
Next up is GUN 7 POWDER running January 28 to February 23, 2020.
A CHORUS LINE runs until January 5, 2020. For tickets, call 703-820-9771 or visit ww.sigtheatre.org for a peak at a video of the show.
THIS AND THAT
"Great Performances" on PBS will present Broadway's Best during November. On Nov. 8, RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S THE KING AND I features the Lincoln Center revival with Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe.
The play RED starring Alfred Molina airs Nov. 15.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING airs Nov 22.
The film "Tootsie" airs on WETA on Nov. 23 at 10 p.m.
For Hal Prince fans, head to a new exhibit at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts the new free exhibition "In the Company of Harold Prince" on display until March 31, 2020.
For musicals, head to Arena Stage for NEWSIES, Olney Theatre Company for SINGING IN THE RAIN, MY FAIR LADY at the Kennedy Center and NEXT TO NORMAL. GUYS AND DOLLS at the Ford's Theatre, and ALADDIN at the Hippodrome.