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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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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