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A Chorus Line

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Inspired by tape-recorded workshop sessions with actual Broadway dancers--commonly called the "gypsies" of showbiz-- A Chorus Line was an unprecedented stage sensation, earning critical acclaim as well as hallmark success at the box office (with a profitable 6,137 Broadway performances). In addition, to garnering 1976's Pulitzer Prize for Drama, A Chorus Line also won the Tony Award for Best Musical.

A Chorus Line is now considered a modern day classic by the mavens of musical theater. After the success of the show's 2006 Broadway revival, an on-the-road production took it across the nation. Last summer, it was last on the queue at Los Angeles's Ahmanson Theatre, and it was a masterful accomplishment. Now, So Cal audiences have a chance to experience the show again--this time at the palatial Pantages Theatre, in Hollywood, through June 13.

Though originally conceived, choreographed, and directed by Michael Bennett, this latest incarnation of is helmed by Bennett's longtime collaborator and co-choreographer, Bob Avian, with choreographic duties overseen by Baayork Lee (these two artists also oversaw the 2006 touring show). Avian and Lee have wisely chosen to emulate Bennett's initial vision of this James Kirkwood, Nicholas Dante script (with music by Marvin Hamlish and Edward Kleban's lyrics).

Set at an audition in 1975, the struggles, insecurities, and complexities of these agile vagabonds are timeless and heartrending. Opening with the musical mantra, "I Hope I Get It" (exquisite musical direction by Paul McCaffrey), two-dozen dancers are quickly narrowed to 17 finalists; only eight--"four boys and four girls"--are to be eventually selected for the coveted theatrical contract.

Zach (a physically impressive Derek Hanson) oversees the proceedings. Serving as judge, coach, and counselor, Zach puts the light-footed aspirants through the rigorous paces, prodding these prancers-for-hire to reveal their private histories, as well as their inner-selves, all the while coaxing them to performing levels that exceed what each contestant thinks of as their personal-best. As if to intensify the conflict of this simple plot, Zach's former live-in lover, Cassie (the remarkable Rebecca Riker), is also trying-out for a place in the chorus line. Notwithstanding her dazzling turn in "The Music and the Mirror" number, Zach is especially critical of the relatively aged Cassie's rhythms and moves.

A Chorus Line is studded with song and dance routines that allow performers their shining moment in the limelight. As Mike, Andy Mills' back-flipping, somersaulting rendition of "I Can Do That" is a breathtaking feat of athleticism. As Val, Kristen Martin gives a show-stopping tribute to T and A as the anatomical formula for her stage success in "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three." And, as Diana, Selina Verastigui's vocally delicate delivery of "What I Did for Love" is the very definition of sweet sorrow. Moreover, the ensemble mesmerizes us--twice!--with the Chorus Line anthem, "One." A Chorus Line is art reflecting art and life. The authentic plights and fancies of chorus line members is a literal fit here, but also an inspiring allegory for any of us who have ever sacrificed in the name of love.

A Chorus Line plays Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. Matinees are at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m. on Sundays. There is also an evening performance at 6:30 p.m. on Sundays. The Pantages Theatre is located at 6233 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood. For reservations, dial (800) 982 - 2787. For more details, visit www.BroadwayLA.org.

 

Spotlight

Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”

ABOUT ELLEN RICHARD

Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.