Friday, September 07, 2007

Dance: 7, Vocals: 3

"A Chorus Line" at the Schoenfeld Theatre, September 6, 2007

Well, I can honestly say that the second national tour of "A Chorus Line" now running on Broadway is everything you might expect...of a second national tour.

At one level, I can think of many reasons why this show should always be running on Broadway. On another level, this production is not the one that deserves that run. Bob Avian's restoration of Michael Bennett's ground-breaking work from 1975 neither does justice to the original nor finds significant relevance to Broadway theatre today.

The cast is truly a mixed bag, talent-wise. Some standouts are Bryan Knowlton as Paul, Michael Berresse as Zach, Will Taylor as Bobby and Jason Patrick Sands as Don. Dance-wise the cast is generally competent, but it is the vocals that undercut this production. Marvin Hamlish's score does have some hummable tunes, but it's not the strongest of scores. As a result, some numbers are not as easy as others to perform. Unfortunately, it is the weaker singers who get these songs. Pitch problems occurred the most, with Natalie Cortez (Diana), Jessica Lee Goldyn (Val) and Melissa Lone (Maggie) as the major offenders.

Another weak spot was Katherine Tokarz' Kristine, throwing away most of her jokes in "Sing!" by swallowing her words.

Even Charlotte d'Amboise as Cassie felt weak, rushing her lines leading into "The Music and the Mirror." Whether intentional or not, Ms. d'Amboise brought a piercing reality to Cassie. Talented and singled out early in her career, but never really becoming the star she could potentially be, her song was less than a show-stopper and she failed to hold her balance in her final dance pose. Even in the working version of "One" when Zack corrects her over and over again, she still doesn't conform and blend with the other dancers.

I think what troubles me most about this production is that this was one of the first that set the bar for Broadway performers to be triple threats (sing/dance/act), is that the number of triple threats in this cast is very small, limited to the standouts above along with Deidre Goodwin (Sheila), but even some of her jokes got tossed away.

Mr. Bennett's choreography soars in some numbers ("One"), yet stumbles in others (The Music and the Mirror"), as if out of a bad jazz dance class. The Ed Sullivan reference, among others were totally lost on a large part of the audience. I would much rather have seen some attempt at updating, or if not, a focus on the show as a period piece. Doing neither undercuts the potential power inherent in this show.


Gil said...

Acting 5.

It's Dance 7, Vocals 3, Acting 5.

Mondschein said...

Agreed and duly noted - I stand corrected.

Thanks, Gil.

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Mondschein - Your review confirms my rationale for not seeing the show in the first place. I'd prefer to keep my memories of the original alive and well.