Oh Strut Your Stuff To See A Chorus Line!
A well deserved standing ovation opens the Maine State Music Theatre 54th summer season with the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award winning Michael Bennett triple threat, A Chorus Line.
With music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, A Chorus Line tells the story of 19 hopeful dancers auditioning for a spot in a Broadway chorus line. Their stories of personal and professional struggles, hardships and happiness are told through a very different kind of audition process, inspired by several real Broadway workshop sessions with Bennett in the mid 1970's.
A stand out performance belongs to Rebecca Riker (Cassie) who performs the show-stopping, The Music And The Mirror. Riker beautifully belts out with emotion while passionately dancing her life's journey. A very funny Sean Bell (Bobby) makes the most of every moment his character is showcased. Joshua Keith (Richie) is a poster child for the perfect body with stellar vocal and dance ability. Netanel Bellaishe (Mike) performs with effortless perfection in I Can Do That. Courtney Romano (Kristine) and Michael Warrell (Al) comedically master the song, Sing!
There is no question that Kelly D. Felthous (Val) is the true triple threat of the line- her vocals, choreography and comedy are what stars are made of, making her the "one" to watch in this show. Felthous brings the house down with her Dance: Ten, Looks: Three.
Dance must be the glue that holds this show together and the entire company masterfully executes the original choreography restaged by original Broadway cast member, Michael Gorman. Gorman's work brings a crisp freshness to the ageless and well-known staging. You will gets chills when this cast of gold sings One and kicks their legs high to a well deserved standing ovation.
Musical direction by W. Brent Sawyer compliments the original production concept of director Donna Drake. Blend, diction and breath control is well done in this dance heavy show. A band of nine professionally conquers the music heavy show.
Much applause must be given to the company's quick as lightening costume change into their finale golds. I applaud the "cut" dancers who briefly appear in I Hope I Get It, never to be seen again, including Maine's own Michaela K. Boissonneault (Dylan) and Matthew Begin (Roy).
Director (and original Broadway cast member) of A Chorus Line, Donna Drake, did a good job restaging the original direction, however I feel several emotional moments never quite come to fruition.
In a show that requires triple threat performers, I'm disappointed with the lack of emotion in At The Ballet, which seems to concentrate more on the music than the heart. Nicky Venditti (Paul) does little with what should be a heart-ripping monologue. Selina Verastigui (Diana) gives a boring interpretation of her song, Nothing. Curt Dale Clark (Zach) never gets beyond the written page, phoning in his presentational performance, often leaving his fellow company members with nothing to work off of. Clark's relationship with Riker's Cassie is nonexistent, to which she thankfully salvages for her show-stopping scene and song.
Scenic Design by Charles S. Kading is appropriately simple. Costume Design by Kurt Alger is complimented by original line costumes designed and provided by Jose M. Rivera. Jason T Hurley, sound designer, executes a nice balance between the musicians and the singers. Jeffery S. Koger, lighting designer, compliments each scene with interesting focus and light levels. I, personally, do not like the Chicago-esq wall of lights in the finale, which I feel detract from the iconic number.