Sneak Preview Review: A CHORUS LINE

by Lynn on June 1, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

sneak preview

At the Festival Theatre, Stratford, Ont.

Conceived by Michael Bennett
Directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore
Musical director, Laura Burton
Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Edward Kleban
Designed by Michael Gianfrancesco
Lighting by Michael Walton
Sound by Peter McBoyle
Cast: Matt Alfano
Ashley Arnett
Juan Chioran
Stephen Cota
Ayrin Mackie
Julia McLellan
Nicolas Nesbitt
Jennifer Rider-Shaw
Conor Scully
Jason Sermonia
Dayna Teitzen

A Chorus Line is the brilliantly created show by Michael Bennett who directed and choreographed it in 1974. It is a show about the people who are not acknowledged—the chorus of a Broadway show. It is full of choreography danced at breakneck speed by dancers desperate for the job to be picked for the chorus of an upcoming show. We hear their stories, secrets, disappointments, fears, loves and see their emotions laid bare. Zack is an ambitious director-choreographer who is casting for the chorus line. Everybody wants/needs to please him.

Director-Choreographer Donna Feore has lovingly, respectfully recreated Bennett’s choreography for this Stratford production, that has re-imagined the show for the Stratford thrust stage (the show has always been produced for a proscenium house.), in which there is nothing between the dancers and the audience. The orchestra is hidden upstairs.

Also added to this re-imagining is what would Bennett do with all the technological advances since the show’s first performance. And so while the dancing is wonderfully produced this production is bloated with over-amplification that approaches noise and that often you can’t make out the lyrics or what is being said; lighting effects that detract from the dancing; and an overall effect that makes this look and sound like any other over produced Broadway musical.

The beauty of A Chorus Line is that it’s NOT like any other musical. It’s iconic. Diminishing this Stratford production so that it looks and sounds like an ordinary Broadway musical illuminates the difference between the creators: Michael Bennett was a genius. Donna Feore is not.

Full Review to follow shortly.

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