by Shirley Lorraine
A Chorus Line kicks it on High Street
With an energetic 5,6,7,8, the High Street Arts Center’s production of the acclaimed A Chorus Line kicks its way into the hearts of dancers and theater-lovers throughout the county. The 1976 Broadway show swept nine Tony awards out of twelve nominations and still holds the title of the sixth longest-running Broadway show ever.
The characters are based on personal experiences and acquaintances of famed Broadway dancer and choreographer Michael Bennett. Formulated in workshop for several years before hitting the big stage, the musical has become the quintessential behind-the-scenes look at the lives of those who entertain the rest of us. The spirited, engaging and memorable music written by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban stirs not only the pace but the emotions of the audience as well as the actors.
The story line captures seventeen hopeful gypsies (professional dancers) auditioning for eight coveted roles in a new musical. The audition experience delves into each dancer’s background, desires and motivation for their craft. Presented without an intermission, the hectic and grueling pace of a dancer’s life is examined in detail. Their individual stories are laced with humor, sarcasm, sadness and yearning.
From the opening sequence on, the audience is swept into the frenetic world of dance. We meet the gamut of humanity– from the unqualified yet starry-eyed hopeful to the seasoned professional and all types in between. The cast is large and double-casting allows a number of actors the opportunity to take on roles throughout the run.
Director Christopher Mahr has assembled quite a capable cast to fill the roles now familiar to many. Choreographers Megan Rayzor and Kendyl Yokoyama coordinate the large assembly well and follow the scripted movements to excellent effect.
As appropriately depicted in the show, this cast is consistent in their portrayals of the individual characters. The nature of the script calls for no one person to stand out – for them to “work as one person”. However, each does have their moment in the spotlight before they meld back into the chorus line to become purposely indistinguishable.
Everyone will have their favorite characters and scenes for various reasons, but all are a delight to watch. Andy Carrillo performs solidly as Larry, the assistant choreographer, leading the dancers through their paces. His dance training clearly shows. Michael Worden and Jessica Bell have a ball with their duet “Sing” as a married couple finishing each other’s sentences. The entire cast handles the choreography with grace and ease.
In a critical subplot, the key role of Cassie is played with skill by Dawn Notagiacomo. She dances and sings beautifully as she imbues Cassie with pathos and the sincere desire to fit in, even though her chorus days are behind her. A previous relationship with Zach (John Tedrick), the director, colors her audition in myriad touching ways.
The entire company is on stage most of the show, dancing in the background as they prepare, rehearse, and finally, perform. The grand finale is an exciting spectacle of gold glitter and precision footwork.
A Chorus Line continues through July 2 at the High Street Arts Center
Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. $20, seniors $18, 12 and under $16 (contains mature language and content). 45 E. High Street, Moorpark. 529-8700 or www.HighStreetArtsCenter.com