Music by Marvin Hamlisch; Lyrics by Edward Kleban; Book by James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante. Blackout Theatre Company. Pioneer Theatre, Castle Hill. October 18 – 26, 2019.
Reviewed : October 19, 2019
Director Angela Hanna speaks glowingly of the commitment her cast and creative team have given to this production – and so she should. It is a well-directed production that does credit to the musical. Managing a cast of twenty-five is not easy, especially when they have to sing, act and dance – a lot – is not easy. It requires time and patience, encouragement and organisation and a clear vision. It requires close collaboration between director, choreographer, musical director and cast members, especially in a show such A Chorus Line that is all about dance and dancers – and the effect their commitment to their art has upon their lives.
Hanna’s cast members bring that to life in their performances, and many of the monologues that explain the backgrounds of their characters, the time and energy they have devoted to dance and the competition for jobs in the profession.
Despite the fact that that competition, via an audition, is the theme of the musical, there is a strong sense of ensemble in this cast, especially when they are dancing – so much so that it would be wrong to single out any one dancer, though the script does give Stephanie Bellchambers, as Cassie, a chance to show her talent in a long solo spot.
The monologues, and the dialogue with the ‘out of sight’ director, give the performers a chance to show their acting skills, and find emotional response to the very real “dancer stories” that writers James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante have created for the characters. Luke Quinn’s interpretation of Paul’s story was especially moving. It is not easy to sustain and build emotion over such a complex piece of writing.
Choreographer Tamara Scamporlino has used a range of routines that complement the skills of the cast and the pace and timbre of the music – and make the best use of the performance space.
Musical Director James McLanders leads a 16 strong band in another room, his only connection with the cast his image beamed to them from above the audience. Yet music and performers work completely in sync, as does Daniel Conway as the controlling director who must make the ‘cut’ to select the 8 dancers who will “get this job”.
A Chorus Line is a musical for dancers, about dancers – yet the singing is important too. Many of the songs have become audition and eisteddfod pieces.” I can Do That”, “At the Ballet”, “Nothing” and, of course, “What I Did For Love” are central to the theme. All are sung resoundingly by this enthusiastic and happy cast. I wish them a good run.