A Chorus Line

Conceived by Michael Bennett. Book: James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante. Music: Marvin Hamlish Lyrics:Edward Kleban. Produced by Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Directed and choreographed by Amy Campbell. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Feb 13 – Mar 17, 2022

Reviewed : 16 February, 2022

Photo : Robert Catto.

The much-awaited production of A Chorus Line from Darlinghurst Theatre Company will be just as much acclaimed! It will fill audiences with joy and elation. The power that radiates from the production is dynamic. This cast really loves “This Job”!

Amy Campbell’s creative vision has given them much to love. Her innovative choreography has brought the cast leaping, spinning and flipping into the twenty-first century – and in doing so, has done nothing to lessen the impact of the plot! In fact, it reinforces it. If “getting cast’ was hard in the 1970s – it’s been even harder in the 2020s, especially after two years of … “Nothing”.

Photo : Robert Catto.

Even without the pandemic, the messages that inspired Michael Bennett back in 1975 resound more insistently today. There are more dance schools. More dancers. They are more highly qualified and experienced … and more ambitious. And making a living – and a life – in the arts is even harder. Yet the passion and fire are undiminished. Dancers still train and audition; keep training and keep auditioning … it’s what they “do for Love” .

The set (Simon Greer) is a brick loading dock, enhanced by mirrors, some sparkling surprises, some exotic lighting (Peter Rubie) and lots of carefully defined and considered costumes (Christine Mutton).

Twenty four dancers, having been taught set routines by assistant choreographer Larry (Brady Kitchingham), face tough, exacting director Zack (Adam Jon Fiorentino). Only seventeen remain after the first cut – and only eight will be required for the production. The competition is strong, the tension high. Then Zack makes it more stressful by asking some personal questions. Their stories underscore the theme. Some sad, some funny, they include the physical characteristics that hold dancers back – size, sexuality, shape, the inability to sing …

Photto : Robert Catto.

All of these pressures and problems are summarised beautifully by Val (Rachel Mansour) and the company in “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three”. And the problem of trying to make it across all forms of theatre is beautifully explained by Angelique Cassimatis who takes Cassie’s solo “The Music and the Mirror” into a whole new, and perhaps for some, a little long, choreographic realm.

It would be impossible to try to comment on every performer in a production where solo moments and ensemble moments merge so smoothly and powerfully. There is a treasure of talent in this production, and a wealth of experience, nurtured both here and overseas, that informs the professional bearing and commitment of this cast.

This production of A Chorus Line is for those who love to dance – and those who love dance. It is bright, yet serious. It gives its cast – and its audience – exactly what Cassie sings about:

Give me somebody to dance for,
Give me somebody to show.
Let me wake up in the morning to find
I have somewhere exciting to go.

That “somewhere exciting to go” for lovers of dance is the Drama Theatre. But only for the next four weeks! Be quick! Tickets are selling fast!

First published in Stage Whispers magazine