Old Dog, New Tricks As “A Chorus Line” Gets A Fresh Look At The Muny

ac-resumes

A fresh look at photos and resumes with the current production of “A Chorus Line” at the Muny.

I’ve never been a big fan of the children’s and teen chorus at the Muny through the years as they often distract from a musical that doesn’t need “fixing.” But this new look of “A Chorus Line” benefits from the younger kids as they serve as visual reminders of how these fledgling dancer/singers got the urge that got them this far. Thanks to director/choreographer Denis Jones, this somehow breathes new life into a show that never really got old or stagnant. It’s still the same, sparkling look at the heartbreak of auditioning, but this makes it so much more real.

ac-cassie

Bianca Marroquin powers through the dynamic “Music and the Mirror” number in “A Chorus Line” at the Muny.

A brilliant cast including an outstanding chorus bring this Broadway love story to life. Bianca Marroquin leads the way as Cassie who has had a few star turns but is now trying to turn her life around again by auditioning for the chorus of a new show. The show’s director, Zach- a strong performance by Ivan Hernandez- is a former director and lover of Cassie and he keeps pushing her to tone it down- don’t pop the head, don’t flick the kicks, etc.- so she blends in the way a chorus member should. Her “Music and the Mirror” dance is breathtaking.

AC-dianaclass

Hannah Florence delights with her description of improv in the Muny production of “A Chorus Line.”

Hannah Florence makes a delightful Diana who relates the story of how she couldn’t deal with acting class- especially the improv sessions where she had to “melt like an ice cream cone” and other ridiculous exercises. She then stops the show with the iconic “What I Did For Love.” Sean Harrison Jones also dazzles as Mike who envied his sister taking dance classes and insisting “I Can Do That.”

ac-mike,sis,etc.

Sean Harrison Jones and his younger self and his sister’s younger self help explain how he got interested in dance during “A Chorus Line” at the Muny.

Paul’s touching story of dealing with coming out is handled with aplomb by Ian Paget. It’s a tale that really resonated with audiences back in the 70’s and, although not a musical number, has a cadence and delivery that truly soars like one of the marvelous songs by Marvin Hamlisch. Sharrod Williams delivers the edgy send off to “Hello Thirteen” with an in-your-face performance and Mackenzie Bell as Val titilates with the “Dance Ten, Looks Three” showstopper.

ac-zach

Ivan Hernandez as Zach sits in the Muny audience to instruct dancers on stage during “A Chorus Line.”

The entire cast simply radiates with this loving look at the gypsies that inhabit the background of most musicals. It has been the musical most endeared to everyone show has ever done theatre in any capacity. Musical director Ben Whiteley lovingly accompanies the dedicated actors who bring every ounce of love to the score. Andrea Lauer’s costumes hit the right notes as well.

The Paige Hathaway set design is effective but the use of the mirrors- particularly at the dramatic finale leave a little to be desired. Rob Denton’s lights are perfect and the visual look to Nathan W. Scheuer’s video designs enhance the proceedings as well.

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The classic finale of “A Chorus Line” dazzles the Muny audience.

“A Chorus Line” is the definitive backstage musical and it never fails to disappoint. What the Muny has done is tweak it just enough to make it, for the most part,  even more entertaining than is has been over the past 40-plus years. It makes it fresh without destroying the original intent and just makes us even happier to see it again. See “A Chorus Line” at the Muny through this Friday.

 

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One Response to “Old Dog, New Tricks As “A Chorus Line” Gets A Fresh Look At The Muny”

  1. Ronald Rand Says:

    A pleasure reading all your posts.
    It’s a great pleasure to get in touch and invite you to take a look at my new book!

    I’ve just returned from a tour in my 16th year with my solo play, “LET IT BE ART!” as Harold Clurman – and I’d like to invite you to learn about my inspiring new book, “CREATE! How Extraordinary People Live To Create and Create To Live” featuring over 100 rare interviews — actors, artists, dancers, directors, musicians, composers, mime artists and clowns, playwrights, and writers — sharing their insights on the process of creativity and the importance of the arts for humankind.

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    with warmest wishes for much good health, success and peace,

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    RONALD RAND
    http://www.CreatetheBook.com
    International Goodwill Cultural Ambassador/Performing Artist
    Fulbright Specialist http://www.LetItBeArt.com
    Founder/Publisher, THE SOUL OF THE AMERICAN ACTOR
    http://www.SoulAmericanActor.com

    ~~~~~~~~~

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    Ronald Rand’s CREATE! compiles interviews with many of the most important theater artists of the past few decades: actors, composers, directors, writers—and even clowns.
    A longtime stage and screen actor, and the publisher of “The Soul of the American Actor,” Rand has an impressive Rolodex, and he makes good use of it for this enjoyable volume. The interviews are all short—about a page or two in length—with photos or illustrations of the artists and brief introductions to their work. Rand asked these artists questions specific to their work.
    So it happens that Kelsey Grammar and Alec Baldwin discuss what keeps them doing live theater, long after they established personas in other media, while Eve Ensler discusses her transition from writing her work to performing it. Elsewhere, Al Hirschfeld argues for the importance of arts education and reminisces about the biggest personalities he caricatured.
    Rand’s interviews took place as far back as the 1990s, so the work also includes a large number of deceased legends, including writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, monologue master Spalding Gray, actor Ossie Davis, and jack-of-all-trades Marvin Hamlisch. Particularly for such long-departed subjects, it’s nice to see one more interviews about their work.
    This also helps the book serve as an effective time capsule of some of the best years of the American stage and the artists who made that time possible. With so many interviews packed into one volume, one can’t help but feel like individual attention could be longer, and quite a lot of the anecdotes and answers almost beg for follow-up questions.
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    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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