For those who don’t like Shakespeare, the second evening opening has for several seasons now been a musical, and for the last few seasons, Donna Feore has been the choreographer and director. Her productions (Fidler on the Roof, 42nd Street, Crazy for You, The Sound of Music) have all been smash hits and this year’s hit is A Chorus Line. Donna and Antoni managed to convince the rights holders that the show needed to be reinterpreted if it were to be performed on the thrust stage at the Festival. So this is a totally new production. Wow!
The dress rehearsal was good, but opening night was fantastic. Even Keith jumped to his feet for the standing ovation. The audience was in love from the first number and there was so much applause and cheering as the play progressed that it added several minutes to the running time – billed as two hours with no intermission.
the conceit of the show is that it is all about the dancers who are trying to get into the Chorus line, not the stars. But each has a story to tell and a number to perform. Who can forget “Dance ten, Looks three” or as I usually call it “Tits and Ass”. (Val performed by Julia McLellan) or Everything is Beautiful at the Ballet? (Sheila – Ayrin Mackie) Juan Chioran was a strong presence as Zach, but Dana Tietzen did not dance well enough to convince anyone she should have been a star, although her singing was great!
Some people have commented that the play seemed a bit dated. I think what they mean is that it is no longer as shocking as it was in 1978, when audiences were not used to coarse language and discussion of homophobia and bullying. In 1978, Keith’s 60 year old aunt who loved the show said “It was a bit near to the bone”. this year a nine year old, who also liked the show described it as “a bit inappropriate”. So times have changed.
But all in all it was a great evening at the theatre.