Theatre review – A Chorus LinePosted on: 04 March 2013 by Agatha Cheng
Laurence Green is impressed by the West End revival of the multi award-winning Broadway musical at the London Palladium.
A glorious celebration of American musical theatre is provided by the Tony Award winning show A Chorus Line which was first staged in 1975 and ran for 15 years on Broadway and is now revived in a splendid new production at the London Palladium.
The musical provides a generous tribute to theatre’s unheralded performers, told through the ins and outs of the audition process as 17 hopefuls compete for just eight spots as dancers in a Broadway musical. We are treated to an insight into the liver and hopes of the troupe and their stories become a mosaic which are illuminated in moments of documentary-style intensity as the director Zach tests them and probes their personal history.
The price was partly based on interviews with real dancers and sometimes their words seem sentimental or banal. But there is much more that is poignant and funny. It suggests that theatre is both a metaphor for life and a way of escaping it, and there is something genuinely moving about the way it gives an individual voice to performers who are just part of an anonymous ensemble.
Crucial to the show’s original success was the marvellous music by Marvin Hamlisch with two particularly outstanding numbers – One and What I Did For Love – and indeed the score perfectly evokes the glitz and grind of showbiz. It certainly serves as a fitting tribute to Hamlisch who died this summer.
The choreography of Michael Bennett (who was also its creator and original director) is faithfully reproduced here by Baayork Lee and is truly stunning, and the climatic staging of the show’s big number One, with the cast now dressed in dazzling golden costumes, rather than rehearsal gear, literally took my breath away. Furthermore the designs with a bare stage and imaginative use of a backdrop of mirrors – all credit to scenic designer Robert Wagner – add much to the show’s overall impact.
Director Bob Avian (who co-choreographed the original production with Bennett) draws first-rate performances from his talented cast, led by Scarlett Strallen as Cassie, the director’s former girlfriend who is desperate for work after failing to make it as a star in Hollywood, while Victoria Hamilton-Barritt shines as a feisty Puerto Rican member of the troupe and sings with great power and feeling, and John Partridge makes a suitably imperious Zach.
This in short is just what musical should be – liberating, involving and infectious.
Box office: 0844 412 2957.
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