A Chorus Line

Past productions have won 25 major awards. Does this revival deserve equal recognition?

By Andrew Andrews

Mac-Haydn Theatre opens their 2022 season with A Chorus Line by James Kirkwood, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban, directed by Eddie Gutierrez following original choreography by Michael Bennett and Bob Avian. Original photos by Ann Kielbasa.

Two dozen desperate singer/dancers are auditioning for an upcoming Broadway production.

Director Zach needs to whittle that number down to eight—so two-thirds of the aspiring performers have gotta go.

Zach wants a better idea of each potential cast member’s background, so he prompts them all to talk a little bit about themselves.

If you were trying to make the cut, what would you say?

With answers throughout the rehearsal that explore everything from first dance classes to unhappy childhoods to realizations about their sexuality, the characters literally and figuratively sing and dance their way through the selection process.

Once the longest-running production in Broadway history, previous incarnations of A Chorus Line claimed nine Tonys (including Best Musical) and more than a dozen other major awards. Does Mac-Haydn’s 2022 opener live up to its history?

The musical features Gabe Belyeu, Anthony Velez, Julia Hajjar, Holly Lauren Dayton, Kylan Ross and Ashley DeLane Burger, with Daniel Booda, Zoe Schneider-Smith, Jasmine Bassham, Isabella Vargas, Ethan Grant Wong, Kyle Marra, Anna Langlois, Bella DePaola, Patrick MacLennan, Jared Martin, Harrison Smith, Jessie J. Potter, Sarah Chiu, Ricky Dobbs, Nina Laing, Amanda Rodriguez, Trevor Squiers and Troy Wheeler.

Impressed with last year’s season, we were excited to return to the Mac-Haydn Theatre for their first production of the summer—especially when we found out it would be A Chorus Line. How thrilling!

In case you’ve forgotten, Mac-Haydn only produces musicals; it’s they’re specialty. So what could be more appropriate than the world’s most famous Broadway musical about rehearsing for a Broadway musical?

Surrounded by this year’s new, roomier seats (with firm cushions and back support), the large cast can hardly be contained by the house’s thrust stage, with dancers spilling into the aisles to provide an even more intimate experience.

Unlike most plots, in which the viewpoint of a single protagonist allows the audience to feel invested in the story, Kirkwood & Dante’s book of broken dreams and humorous backstory ingeniously merges all of the unique performers’ wants and needs into a common thread, just as the individual dancers must sacrifice their desire to stand out when they perform as a unified chorus line.

Although choreography has been an important part of every production we’ve seen at this venue, it especially “takes the stage” in this show. In fact, while most musicals typically feature more than two dozen numbers, the soundtrack of A Chorus Line is only half as long with only thirteen songs.

As a result, it seems that the roles in this production were assigned according to dancing ability first, singing ability second. Which is not to say that any of the performers can’t sing—even the character Kristine, who purportedly cannot, is clearly only faking it!—it’s just that in some cases, a stronger vocal ability would have enhanced this already-wonderful production even more.

Backed by a live, professional six-piece orchestra, the large cast might be just a little shy of a Broadway-quality performance, but thanks to the intimate setting and relatively low ticket price ($49), it’s close enough, and you’ll easily get your money’s worth.

Pro-tip: due to the placement of speakers over the audience, a person’s voice often sounds like it is above or behind you when the actor is actually standing on the stage. This is less of a problem the further you are from the front, and the seats in the back are still close enough that you won’t feel removed from the action!

5

Andrew Andrews attended A Chorus Line at Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham on Thursday, June 23, 2022 @ 8:00pm to write this review.