A Chorus Line, originally staged in 1975 is an art-imitating-life production about seventeen dancers vying for eight spots in a chorus line for a Broadway show.
The last leg of A Chorus Line’s Australian tour, opened on Friday night to an eager, yet slow to warm up Brisbane crowd.
When I heard the familiar opening “Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch…Again!”, I had to stop myself from applauding wildy to welcome the show in. I don’t know whether it’s the nostalgic flashback to being in dance class myself or that those classic words are instant reassurance of a great night in the theatre.
Michael Bennett’s original direction and choreography, re-staged by Baayork Lee, really brought out the vulnerability and idiosyncrasies of each character, which was endearing to watch. With each triple threat performer playing their part superbly, it is their in-depth characterisation and plight that keeps this 70s show contemporary and more importantly, enjoyable. However, some do see this show as dated. Is it the simple concept with the tell-it-like-it-is vignette plot line or the pared back production design? If we are talking about the content; dancers still go through the same drill in auditions. And while hopeful performers may not tell their back story to an audition panel, it is interesting that a reality show currently on TV actually does require auditionees to write on their application a traumatic experience or painful childhood. And it looks like the voting is sometimes more based on how tragic their story is and not their talent. It seems this 70s show with a veiled pretext for a storyline is rather prophetic, imitating the life of the wanna-be performer today. Exploited in every way a dancer or any performing artist’s plight is timeless, and it’s nice to let an audience in on that often very unstable and painful journey – physically, emotionally, and financially. Maybe the heads of Centrelink should see this show? …
Interestingly, it wasn’t until more than an hour into the show I realised there wasn’t in fact any set, except the studio mirrors, which revolve upstage to reveal the final “show” set. With only one costume change into the final dance sequence, the wardrobe department is equally as simple. This lack of need for hoopla and hydraulics was testament to the strength of the cast, choreography, and excellent dancing, (although I must admit, I would have liked a bit more razzle dazzle on the last backdrop and eye lines should be checked; the audience isn’t in the lighting rig). But these were small foibles compared to the otherwise excellent presentation and the real joy I felt from watching it.
With such a strong ensemble it seems unfair to pick out favourites, as sometimes it’s more in the writing that some characters get the good lines than the acting themselves. However, Josh Horner as Zack was impressive and his dance skills were utilised well. Debora Krizak as Sheila was stylishly sassy, as was Ashley McKenzie as Bobby. Sage Douglas as Val always drew the eye (maybe it was her tits and ass). The song and dance number ‘I Can Do That’, was a great showcase for Matt Holly as Mike, and the comedy number ‘Sing!’ by Sian Johnson and Will Centurion as Kristine and Al was the best I have seen.
A Chorus Line is an energetic show full of laughs and pathos, great musical numbers, and excellent dancing. What more could you want from a musical?
The Australian tour, which won a 2012 Helpmann award from Best Musical, will play at the QPAC Lyric Theatre in Brisbane until 2 December.
For a full cast list, visit achorusline.com.au