By Christopher Heide
A Chorus Line is one “singular sensation”, sure to mesmerize, enthrall and entertain its audience. One of the longest running Broadway musicals of all time, the 5th Avenue Theatre has chosen to revive this classic production as its season-opening show. Set to a brisk pace, and lacking an intermission, A Chorus Line provides a non-stop ride, filled with exciting, timeless choreography and powerhouse vocal performances.
Interestingly, this revival retains much of the original choreography from the once novel musical. For many productions, such a choice might seem stale, lazy and unimaginative. For A Chorus Line, however, it works.
When it originally debuted in 1975, A Chorus Line was a fairly risque and groundbreaking production. Tacking issues of abuse, family dysfunction and homosexuality, the show pushed the boundaries of what you might expect from a typical Broadway musical. Because of the edginess of the material, A Chorus Line still manages to feel relevant and apropos to modern times. In fact, the only dated about this show are the somewhat antiquated costume choices.
A strong focus on the ensemble, a flowing mix of dialogue and dance, and nuanced character development are trademarks of this show. With minimal sets, a greater focus is placed on the quality of the acting, singing and dancing. Luckily, this cast rises to the challenge. Particular standouts include Chryssie Whitehea as Cassie, the veteran dances looking for one last job and Katrina Asmar as Diana, who manages to tackle the iconic power-ballad “What I Did For Love”, with a Lea Michele style charisma and presence. This diva definitely hit her power notes. Other talented cast members include Greg McCormick Allen, Taryn Darr, Gabriel Corey, Trina Mills,Mallory King, Connor Russell, Sarah Rose Davis, Taylor Nieymeyer, Scott Brateng and Eric Esteb.
A Chorus Line manages to be more raw and real than many of its musical counterparts; the world created within this show is deeply layered. The central focus of the show, a group of dances looking for one last job, easily resonates with us all. The raw desperation of not giving up on a dream is palpable throughout the whole show. This sense of dire thematic urgency works well with the high energy choreography and rapid fire dialogue. Particular standout numbers include “At The Ballet” and the rousing closer, “One”.
Director David Bennett has created a markedly innovative and exciting success with his revival of A Chorus Line. The 5th Avenue Theatre has once again opened its season with a tremendous, resounding bang.