By Bob Evans
For a bevy of Broadway hopefuls, the opportunity to dance in a Broadway musical means taking their best shot by exposing their innermost disappointments and insecurities to the casting director as they audition for an upcoming show.
“A Chorus Line,” the Pulitzer-Prize-winning musical by Marvin Hamlisch, opened to a capacity crowd at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, May 29 for a one-week run. With a talented cast, the touring production proves that even though a 1975 Broadway show remains relevant in today’s market and continues to excite audiences. Even though almost 45 years old, the stories ring true while the message proves timeless.
“A Chorus Line” looks at the lives of 17 hopefuls from beginner to seasoned-performer. All want a part in the chorus of an upcoming show that features dancers. The story takes place at an audition with only a set of mirrors and one bold white line as the backdrop and set for the show. As each performer reveals their past, audiences find touching stories that reflect in the lives
of someone they know. The show gives unique insight into the similarities of these hopefuls.
“ ‘A Chorus Line’ tells of the achingly poignant ambitions of professional Broadway gypsies to land a job in the show, and is a powerful metaphor for all human aspiration,” a spokesman for Theater League of Kansas City said. Big League Productions brings the 9-time Tony winner to the Kauffman Center with the choreography made famous by Michael Bennett.
With a talented cast, no one would ever suspect the cast from the 2018 show were not born when the original debuted on Broadway. The ageless musical continues to entertain and the reaction from the Kansas City audience proves the staying power of “A Chorus Line.” Punctuated with profanities, the audience laughed as though they had never seen the musical before, and maybe they had not. “A Chorus Line” drew a very mixed crowd from young adult to very mature. With information on the ticket website stating “for mature audiences,” only a few pre-college aged persons attended.
Watching and focusing on the crowd, the stories unfolding on the stage resonated well with the audience. With ample warning that the show runs two-hours with no intermission, very few left during the performance for a comfort break. Those attending need to be advised of the one-act format of the show.
Still, by watching the audience, the story grips them immediately and the lack of movement, noise, or fidgeting means the audience buys into the compelling stories–serious and funny. The laughs are carefully placed in “A Chorus Line” to break up the tension within the piece. As the audience watches, they can root for their favorites to win a place in the chorus. Seventeen hopefuls compete for only eight slots.
The staging, lighting, sound, and all the technical aspects of the show are mastered in this tour and plays well on the Kauffman stage. Acting and dancing must balance in this show with no props or set. Group and small group numbers are sharp, well-choreographed, and well-constructed.
The electricity that many times accompanies opening nights was sporadic this performance. At times waves of excitement could be felt throughout the show, but it was not sustained. And, then, another wave over-swept the audience. So, the cast worked really hard but the energy level was uneven. Still, the show deserved and won the approval of the audience.
And, the numbers that most remember were Cassie song and dance number to convince the director to give her a chance to restart her career. And, the most memorable solo from the show, “What I Did for Love,” always pleases the crowd. But no song grabs the audience more or gains more applause and laughs than the naughty “Dance 10, Looks 3″ number–mostly known as two body parts. As for the monologues, Paul’s story absolutely yanks the heartstrings. His story touches the soul.
“A Chorus Line” remains a valuable piece of American theatre. The timeless appeal shows from the opening number through the extravagant and glitzy closing number. The show is guaranteed to appeal to everyone.
Tickets for “A Chorus Line” can be purchased through Theater League of Kansas City’s website. The show runs 2 hours, with no intermission.
Tags: “A Chorus Line”, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment