Review: A CHORUS LINE IS A DREAM COME TRUE at The Woodlawn Theatre

Running now through September 4th at the Woodlawn Theatre

By: Aug. 13, 2022
Review: A CHORUS LINE IS A DREAM COME TRUE at The Woodlawn Theatre

Marvin Hamlish's "A Chorus Line" is a broadway beast. A show many people dream of being in but seldom have the talent in acting, dance, and singing. Woodlawn Theatre's production, running through September 4th, has compiled a cast that not only meets the requirements for this show but exceeds them. Directed by Woodlawn Theatre's Executive and Artistic Director, Christopher Rodriguez the audience caught a glimpse at a unique audition scenario full of heart, a little scandal, and a ton of dance. Roger Ebert sums up the premise of "A Chorus Line" in his 1985 review: ""A Chorus Line" is the quintessential backstage musical, a celebration of the lives and hard times of the gypsy dancers who turn up by the hundreds to audition for a handful of jobs on Broadway." Christopher Rodriguez having been through years of auditions both as an actor and a director really brought us into the audition room and highlighted the tumultuous task that directors undertake when casting a show.

Kevin Cox, playing Zach the director (a role with the least amount of dance in the show), was not only able to dazzle us with his dance abilities but also exemplified the struggles directors go through when faced with a room full of amazing, talented people. Having directed many shows myself, I found myself connecting with this struggle on a personal level and felt the sheer magnitude that these casting decisions play in many people's lives. Cox brought true emotion to the stage when confronting Kahlee Moore, who plays Cassie his ex-girlfriend. The scenes between the two were fraught with tension, yearning, and desperation that really made the audience empathize with both of their situations. Rodriguez's use of space during these intimate scenes not only brought the two closer together but allowed for tension to stretch across the stage making it palpable in the room.

Review: A CHORUS LINE IS A DREAM COME TRUE at The Woodlawn Theatre Having seen Kahlee Moore perform previously I was struck by the strength, depth, and passion in her voice as she sang The Music and the Mirror. It was clear to me that she brought everything to the stage and would continue to do so every night. From the audience's perspective it truly looked like playing this role was a dream come true and Moore nailed it.

Alonzo Corona as Paul was delightful and heartbreaking. Paul opens up in the play about having been sexually abused, dropping out of school due to bullying, and working as a Drag Queen in order to get into the entertainment industry. Corona brought the perfect balance of heart, insecurity, and power to the stage. His dancing was topnotch and often pulled my eye and his lengthy monologue brought tears to my eyes as he collapsed to the floor struggling to come to terms with a past he was trying to avoid. It was beautiful.

Another standout in the production is Shelby Ward's portrayal of Shiela. She was everything I could ask for in a broadway veteran. It was clear that Ward knew what she was doing. She provided not only the hard exterior that is Sheila's sarcasm and defensiveness but also the tender emotions that she is protecting with grace and sass.

"A Chorus Line" is an ensemble show with every actor having to work seamlessly with their fellow actors on stage. The ensemble is made up of Courtney Davis (Larry), Cary Farrow IV (Don), Lauren Campion (Maggie), Anthony Martucci (Mike), Emily Sivilay (Connie), Ivan Ortega (Greg), Joseph Schuster (Bobby), Alexandra Kinsley (Bebe), Myles Harris (Richie), Amy Abrigo (Judy), Rafael Martinez (Al), Chrystal Frost (Kristine), Ashley Markgraf (Val), Jackson Gable (Mark), and Jillian Sainz (Diana) were phenomenal. I have seldom seen a group of actors commit so wholly to their character, connections to each other, and the story being told so well. Not once did I see someone break their character and many of them had specific character facial expressions, stances, and vocal qualities. They all worked so well together that you, at moments, forgot you were watching a scripted piece of theatre. Bravo to this group of amazing actors, dancers, and singers.

In a show like "A Chorus Line," a special mention needs to go out to the choreographer and music directors. This show is not only physically difficult but vocally challenging. Eric B. Mota's choreography was stunning. So many styles were invoked throughout the piece in a way that highlights the abilities of all the dancers on stage. Andrew Hendley's music direction brought the heart of the show to life. Many of the songs are difficult in range, the amount of power a singer needs, not to mention to do this while dancing and Hendley's direction clearly paid off, in addition, the live musicians were out of this world.

The technical elements of this show were exceptional. Benjamin Grabill, Set Designer, brought us straight into the audition room. Lighting Designer, Matt Smith, filled the space with color and light at all the right moments. The Costume Designs by Marshall Chase brought the audience back to the 1980s. Sound and Projection Design by Benjamin Farrar was stunning despite the occasional microphone issue.

Run, don't walk, to see "A Chorus Line" at the Woodlawn Theatre running through September 4th. They have recently announced a change in venue as they head into their next season and I have no doubt they will continue to create quality musical theatre productions in their new space.