Monday, 18 February 2013

A Chorus Line the Musical: Theatre Review

Set on Broadway in 1975, A Chorus Line is a musical about dancers who are auditioning for a Broadway show. The original production opened off-Broadway in 1975 and transferred onto Broadway in the same year due to the production having a sell out run and the show also won 10 out of 12 Tony Award nominations. The show ran for 6,137 performances and closed in 1990. A West End production of the show opened in 1976, in the same year U.S and International tours started. Many international productions opened and a film adaptation was released in 1985. A Broadway revival opened in 2006 and closed after running for just under two years, this production recently transferred to the West End marking the shows first ever West End revival. The production is being dedicated to composer Marvin Hamlisch who died last year. 
The is set in an empty Broadway Theatre where an audition is to take place, it follows 17 veteran dancers who are looking for one last job before it’s too late for them to dance anymore. Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban’s score has to be Broadway at its best; each and every song is catchy. When you walk out the theatre each person is humming a different tune! One thing they manage to do, along with the help of James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante’s book, is create 17 characters that all get an individual story making the audience create a wonderful connection with every single cast member. This is truly an ensemble piece and I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything else out there like this. 
Bob Avian directs the show and with the knowledge of the original Broadway staging stays very true to the style of the piece. Robin Wagner’s set is perfect, the bank canvas he creates is then filled by the characters the actors create, it may be plain and empty but I believe there would be no other way of designing it. 
John Partridge makes his return to the West End playing the Director of the show the dancers are auditioning for, Zach. Although only his voice was featured throughout most of the show he really did the role well, I think he may have thought that the part was bigger than it actually is as whenever he’s on stage he tries (and fails) to command it when in fact this is an ensemble piece. 
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt has been perfectly cast as Diana. She performs the role almost effortlessly and brings out insecurities in the character which is heart-warming to watch. Something I noticed with this production is that because there is a lack of big sets and costumes some of the actors over reacted to try and compensate for that but she stayed very true to her character. 
Scarlett Strallen plays Cassie, although people may think this is perfect casting I personally am not a fan of Mrs Strallen. Her performance was far to Stage School child for me and wasn’t a truthful portrayal of the character. The audience is meant to feel for Cassie and really want her to get the job but the way she played was far too whiny and her dance solo was very half hearted for me. 
Leigh Zimmerman plays Shelia and by God does she do it justice! She is so natural and she has such good comic timing within the role.  She carried her character the whole way through with such grace and she has a damn good set of legs on her too! Lucy Jane Adcock plays Judy and for me this was one of the standout performances, such an incredible dancer and made me love her character by the end. At this performance we had Alice Jane Murray as Val as Rebecca Herszenhorn was away. Alice was one of the people cast from the open audition, why? I’m not sure to be honest. She is obviously a good dancer, however she cannot act. Throughout ‘Dance: Ten, Looks: Three’ I was cringing, it felt like she had just stepped out of playing the role from a High School Production. 
Daisy Maywood played Bebe and became one of my favourite cast members. I’m not sure what it was about her but I just loved her! Gary Wood did a fantastic job at playing Paul, a role that really captured the audience’s hearts and he was another one who just performed the role so naturally. An absolute pleasure to watch. The whole cast fitted together so well and the thing I loved about the show was that it is truly an ensemble piece and the dance numbers were thrilling to watch. 
A show which I hope runs for a while so more people get the pleasure of watching this brilliant piece of musical theatre. I really hope this production is eligible for some awards at some point because it deserves the attention. Although I may have said some not so great things about this production in this review I personally think it may be one of the best musicals that is on in the West End at the moment and would definitely recommend everyone to go and watch this.

Rating: ****

A Chorus Line is currently running at the London Palladium

Cast Includes:  Scarlett Strallen, Leigh Zimmerman, John Partridge,  Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Lucy Adcock, Georgie Ashford, Ed Currie, Frances Dee, Segun Fawole, Harry Francis, Simon Hardwick, Rebecca Herszenhon, James T Lane, Marc Leslie, Vicki Lee Taylor, Daisy Maywood, Alice Jane Murray, Alastair Postlethwaite, Andy Rees, Adam Salter, Alexzandra Sarmiento, Michael Steedon, Gary Watson, Gary Wood, Rebecca Giocopazzi, Genevieve Nicole and Ashley Nottingham.

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