A Chorus Line
Like a lot of things that are filled with expectations, the revival of A CHORUS
LINE ends up feeling like a bit of a let down. In fact, when we meet these
characters they’re auditioning for a show. This is about their expectations “I
got to get this job.” The line rings out repeatedly.
And Edward Kleban’s lyrics echo the theme. From “Every Dream You
Ever Had” to “Singular Sensation”, these young dancers desperately
want to achieve something for themselves, an aura which creates an exciting
sense of tension at the beginning. But as their stories develop, the psychodrama
starts to ware on us.
That’s due in part to climactic scenes that don’t live up to the
audience’s expectations. There’s that word again, expectations.
It’s thinking about the next step rather than feeling into the moment.
So Zach, the choreographer, an obvious reflection of the show’s creator
Michael Bennett, directs his dancers, “Don’t dance”, he says.
And “I just want you to be yourselves.”
What starts out with lots of verve and energy is supposed to bring us over
the top in the dramatic scenes that follow. In these turning points the selected
individuals are supposed to soar by demonstrating to us who they really are.
But they falter. As when Charlotte d’Amboise dances her solo number surrounded
by a wall of mirrors. Unfortunately, d’Amboise, the dancer who’s
supposed to stand out more than any other member of the chorus, just isn’t
dynamic or interesting enough. Similarly, when Jason Tam as Paul the gay boy,
talks about his coming out – it’s one of the most vulnerable and emotional
scenes in the play, but the actor just isn’t convincing.
These turning points, in which the show’s stars are born, miss their
mark. Ironically, the stories heroes, the best dancers and singers, don’t
appear to be the ones who win the best roles in this production. And
along with it something greater is lost in expressing the story’s point
of view about moving beyond expectations into reality and about experiencing
self acceptance and a sense of personal success. Sadly, the journey these young
dancers take to self discovery seems trite while the world around them appears
It does seem shameful to feel so blaze about the musical that expresses the
thrill of showbiz and the drive and commitment of these talented kids. Actually
the most exciting moments in this production are often the most off hand – the
comic asides, the obvious revelations. Natalie Cortez especially has
a terrific singing voice and the personality to make a smaller role truly enchanting.
And, of course, the score earns its place in showbiz lore, a memorable reprise
about being young and having lots of hope for the future.
Thats This Week on Broadway. Im Isa Goldberg.