I’m always worried when companies announce reimagined new choreography of iconic musicals, but after the first eight counts, I was hooked on Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s new production of A Chorus Line.
Like many shows of late, A Chorus Line fell victim to several COVID lockdowns, which probably made the opening night atmosphere more electric.
For uninitiated readers, A Chorus Line broke the Broadway musical mould in the mid-70s. The storyline is simple, hopeful dancers are waiting to be cast in the chorus line, and throughout the show, the narrative explores each of their stories; where they come from, why they are there, and what their aspirations are. As someone familiar with the show and with too many failed auditions to mention, I still had that heightened level of nervousness watching each one succeed or fail throughout the show.
While the show ends with dreams crushed and jobs for others, you can’t help yourself but be blown away by this ingenious production.
A Chorus Line, if you haven’t worked out, is a wildly dance intensive show. I’m not usually a fan of dual roles in the creative team, but it was a very clever move by Darlinghurst to appoint Amy Campbell to director/choreographer. Through Campbell’s direction, it’s clear that she understood the body and the movement of a dancer and seamlessly moved the action between dance numbers and the narrative. The new choreography paid homage to the original card fee that we know and love but brought it from the 70s well into 2022, adding new elements of hip-hop break dancing and other modern genres.
Of course, it takes more than a captain to sail a ship, and the music under the direction of Damon Wade, the costumes designed by Christine Mutton and the simplistic yet sophisticated set design by Simon Greer brought this production to life. My only critique is that I wish the lighting captured the dancers more. At times, the performers sang in shadows, and we lost where the dialogue was coming from.
To perfectly stage A Chorus Line, you need a cast of ‘triple threats’, that is, performers who can sing, act and dance the house down. While some performers were probably ‘two and a half threats’, the ensemble as a whole produced perfectly synchronised dance moments and great ensemble singing. In fact, in a rare musical moment, the male chorus was vocally stronger than the females.
And while each performer had their strengths, Rechelle Mansour as Val, Ryan Ophel as Greg, Adam Jon Fiorentino as Zach and Angelique Cassimatis as Cassie, continually drew my attention throughout the show.
For a show which is nearing 50 years old, Darlinghurst Theatre Company has brought a fresh interpretation onto the stage, and I predict it will be one of the unforgettable productions in Sydney in 2022.
– The other Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig is a regular on the Sydney Arts scene after living, working, and performing in London. He has a long history with theatre, and when not dabbling in the arts (which rarely ever happens), he works in scientific research and loves to travel the world trying new gin. Follow him on all the socials @talldancraig
A Chorus Line runs for 2 hours (including interval) and is playing at The Sydney Opera House until 11 March 2022. Tickets are available on the Sydney Opera House website.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Darlinghurst Theatre Company.
Image credit: Robert Catto.