Sunday, 5 February 2012

A Chorus Line, Her Majesty's, Melbourne, Feb 4, 2012 ****

Conceived, originally directed & choreographed by Michael Bennett
Book- James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante; Music - Marvin Hamlisch; Lyrics - Edward Kleban; Co-choreographed - Bob Avian; Restaged by Baayork Lee
Produced by Tim Lawson & John Breglio

Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, Feb 4 to March 3, 2012 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Feb 4, 2012
A Chorus Line, Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne Feb2012

A CHORUS LINE is a musical about the rocky careers and physical hardships of Broadway chorus hoofers, and it is definitely the dancing that zings in this Australian revival of Michael Bennett’s 1975, Tony Award winner.

I Hope I Get It, the spectacular, opening song-dance routine, led by the impressive Joshua Horner as director Zach, provides a preview of the vigour and passion to come.

On a bare stage in a New York theatre, 17 hopeful and desperate dancers – bright-eyed novices and jaded veterans – audition for eight coveted roles in a Broadway musical.

Between the gruelling, sweaty audition routines, Horner, as taskmaster Zach, compels all to reveal their personal lives, secrets, fears and dreams.

Their shared aspirations and individual stories are set to rousing music (Marvin Hamlisch), captivating song lyrics (Edward Kleban) and dazzling choreography (Michael Bennett) which is recreated here by Baayork Lee.

Although this is an ensemble show, Anita Louise Combe is a stand out with her impassioned plea as Cassie, the older dancer, who sings and dances her desperation and commitment in The Music and the Mirror.

The ensemble provides a visual and aural feast for us with One (‘One singular sensation…’), and Karlee Misipeka as Diana ably leads the chorus in their fervent lament, What I Did For Love.

Ashley McKenzie is sleek, preppy and privileged as Bobby, statuesque Debora Krizak is comically sultry as Sheila, while Euan Doidge’s monologue as Paul, the shy, former drag queen is poignant.

It’s a tall order to sing, dance and act and, although several of the dancers are also polished singers and the chorus of voices blends effectively, several individuals lack the requisite vocal power in their solos.

This leaves us with a slightly soft spot around the middle of this production, but it does not reduce our delight in the captivating stories, characters and breathtaking dancing.

By Kate Herbert

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