BWW Review: A CHORUS LINE at Kauffman Center For The Performing Arts

BWW Review: A CHORUS LINE at Kauffman Center For The Performing Arts

The original Broadway production of 1975s "A Chorus Line" ran 6,137 performances because it caught something true and sometimes sad about all those people who labor in the background of musical theater. They are the dancers, the bit players, and all those talented people who long to be famous.

"Chorus Line" was born out of several real workshop sessions for those actors known as "the dance gypsies" by Michon Peacock, Tony Stevens, and later Michael Bennett. Bennett taped the sessions and the stories of the individual dancers became the book for "A Chorus Line."

There are no stars in "Chorus Line" with the possible exception of Zach (Taylor Wright), the director, who is a stand-in for Bennett himself and Cassie (Madison Tinder) who Bennett briefly married (Donna McKechnie). McKechnie won the 1976 Tony for Best Actress in a Musical.BWW Review: A CHORUS LINE at Kauffman Center For The Performing Arts

This new iteration produced by "Big League Productions," a non-equity tour company, captures something of the original. These are all young actors, mostly on their first national tour. The actors are talented, but still raw in their attempts to scratch and sing and dance their ways all their way to a feature role in some future Broadway production. The actor who played little Connie Wong (Baayork Lee) way back in 1975 has graduated from the chorus line and is now the director of this "A Chorus Line" tour. She preserves the staging, choreography, and feel of the original.

The scene is a blank stage backed by dance mirrors. A cattle call audition is going on. The dancers on stage are dressed in various workout costumes. A dance routine is being taught on stage. The director, Zach, makes an initial cut down. Seventeen gypsies remain. These actors will be more personally interviewed before the final cast of eight is selected.

The songs by the late Marvin Hamlisch are crafted out of the seventeen's life stories. Zach conducts most of the interviews as a disembodied voice from the house. The audience learns what it means to yearn and how these people came to be where they are. Great Marvin Hamlisch tunes include "I Hope I Get It," "One," "The Music And The Mirror," and "What I Did For Love."

Most members of these musical theater audiences themselves have aspired (sometimes only briefly) to some level and at some point in their lives to be there up on that stage. This is perhaps why this particular show with a thin plot and almost no lead characters continues to resonate so deeply after almost fifty years. In many ways, it speaks as a cautionary tale.

"A Chorus Line" continues at the Kauffman Center through Sunday June 3. Tickets are available online at www.theaterleague.com/kansascity/.

Photos courtesy of Big League Productions.

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From This Author Alan Portner

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