PicksInSix Review: A CHORUS LINE
‘CHORUS LINE’ BUBBLES WITH EMERGING TALENT
It was much later in the evening--past midnight following the press performance and opening of Porchlight Music Theatre’s singularly sensational revival of “A Chorus Line” at Ruth Page Center for the Arts Sunday--that I realized the significance of April 15. Exactly 44 years ago, to the day, “A Chorus Line” opened at the Public Theatre, before moving to the Shubert Theatre in July that year to begin a run of 6,137 performances, the longest running show in Broadway history at the time. As conceived, directed and originally choreographed by Michael Bennett with book by James Kirkwood and Nicolas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban, it garnered nine Tony Awards and the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The anniversary no doubt played a hand in the selection of “A Chorus Line” for the final show of Porchlight’s 24th Season, and you can bet that Artistic Director Michael Weber and Director Brenda Didier knew that not only was the time exactly right, but that everyone—audience included—was ready artistically for this ambitious assignment. As a piece of transformative musical theater, “A Chorus Line” offers an opportunity for the next generation of multitalented artists to discover the material anew. And nothing could be finer than a Porchlight rendering that bubbles over with emerging talent.
So, the perfect storm forms on the rugged, earthy, character-infused Ruth Page stage: the artful collaboration of Didier and the seasoned choreographer Christopher Chase Carter with the superb musical director Linda Madonia, all working at the precipice of their craft with one of the finest assembly of performers you will see anywhere. The bare stage. The line. One stunning costume change. Real-life stories told with heart. And love. It is all there in this raw and bittersweet saga--a non-stop musical extravaganza!
Didier cast an all-Chicago ensemble in her 17th production at Porchlight. The relative intimacy of the Ruth Page provides a perspective not often seen in a show that spans two hours with no intermission and only intermittent stage breaks. The inspired performances—a testament to anyone who has ever aspired to make a career on stage—are glorious from the opening vamp to the show-stopping finish.
By its nature, this is a show about not standing out, perseverance and hope. Uniformly, the cast of 25 is terrific with featured performances by Laura Savage (Cassie Ferguson), Richard Strimer (Zach), Adrienne Velasco-Storrs (Diana Morales), Alejandro Fonseca (Paul San Marco), Erica Evans (Sheila Bryant), Natalie Welch (Val Clark), Matthew Weidenbener (Mike Costa), Aalon Smith (Maggie Winslow), Liz Conway (Bebe Benzenheimer) and a shout out to Terrell Armstrong (Richie Walters)–on behalf of every other company member–for his high-flying, jaw-dropping stunt.
Porchlight recently announced that “A Chorus Line” is extended through May 31, which will make for one more singular sensation on your must-see list.
PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE
A CHORUS LINE
through May 31st
RUTH PAGE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
1016 N Dearborn Street
For more reviews, visit: Theatre In Chicago