BWW Review: A CHORUS LINE at Monticello Opera House
A Chorus Line Takes Center Stage
If every performer's thought bubble were visible above their heads, onlookers would see a mixture of angst, tension, joy, insecurity, overconfidence and a host of other thoughts. "A Chorus Line" at Monticello Opera House puts all of those thoughts into motion.
Dancers congregate on the stage, a sparse performance area, as they prepare for the next big audition after a previous show had closed. No one has been cut yet; hope is fresh as the company sings "I Hope I Get It."
The variety of audition attire keeps the audience members' eyes entertained and adds to each individual performer's character.
As the audition lengthens and the tension grows, dancers are asked to do something unexpected: TALK.
"But I can't just talk" says Diana Morales (Daniela Rodriguez). Like many of the other characters, Morales' dancing is more comfortable for her than words. And words are what Zach (Krystof Kage) wants.
Zach moves to the back of the theater to observe as Lori (Destiney "Dessi" Waters) guides candidates on stage.
Standouts as candidates' stories are interwoven with song and dance included the dancing of Mike (Chazriq Chevaughn Clarke) and Val's (Lexi McCain) performance of "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three."
"At the Ballet" was one of the moments in the show that captured the childhood dreams packed into dance bags by Sheila (Elizabeth "Lizzy" McCawley), Bebe (Erielle Robinson) and Maggie (Brittany Porthouse).
"A Chorus Line" may be about dance, but human connections pervade. The relationship between Kristine (Allison Bahmer) and Al (Ryan David Reines) is a reminder that it's not always simple to separate off-stage reality from onstage life. The same is true as Zach and Cassie (Chelsea Ealum) interact, leading to Cassie's lengthy solo that represents her need to connect with the Cassie that once was a more singular sensation while also convincing Zach she can blend in with the chorus.
It would be easy to be convinced that Zach has lost touch with his soft side, jaded by a life of dictating professional fates. Is he being mean to make dancers talk about their lives rather than just dance? To make them keep dancing past the point of exhaustion. The conclusion of his conversation with Paul (Jon Mathes) exuded empathy and a different side than Zach had presented to that point.
The show culminates in a production number that glitters with gold and pops with excitement.
Some of these performers are newer to the stage than others. There are moments that may not be textbook perfect, but those moments are a one kick ball change in a broadly enthusiastic dance.
"Nobody gets into this business to play it safe," reminds Morales. None of these auditioners are planning to play it safe, and this production of "A Chorus Line" brings enough energy, joy and vulnerability to leave safety backstage.
"A Chorus Line" was the directorial debut of Spencer Scruggs. For information about tickets for performances through June 30, visit this link.
Photo Credit: Meredyth Hope Photography/Monticello Opera House