A Chorus Line at Tacoma Little Theater – Play Review Tacoma – The Suburban Times
While waiting for the doors to open onto the theater, Peg and I ate a cookie and looked at the artwork and posters in the lobby of the Tacoma Little Theater. I took a look at the poster for A Chorus Line and stopped by the name of James Kirkland, Jr. The picture from a paperback came to mind: There Must Be a Pony. I bought it at the little mom and pop grocery store in Ponder’s Corner around 1961. My parents owned La Casa Motel, which was a little over a hundred yards away. I read and kept the book until I got married in 1966 and moved to North Yakima, one block from the Little Tacoma Theater.
The book for A Chorus Line was written by James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante. I had never realized this minor connection to the musical until now in 2020, but it emphasizes the power of both the written word AND the spoken word in theater.
I thought Peg and I bought the CD for A Chorus Line in 1977, two years after the musical opened in New York. (Even though CDs weren’t released until 1982.) Memories are not always correct. I looked in our music closet and found our Original Broadway Cast album from 1975. I remember my wife playing music in our kitchen and singing the songs. Our children also loved the music. We remember taking them to see the musical in Seattle on Fifth Avenue. I hope it’s true. (Peg: Yes, that’s right!) Thursday night we attended the final dress rehearsal for TLT’s latest production: A Chorus Line. What a beautiful cast. I sat down and played “What I Did for Love” on the piano that afternoon before seeing the musical.
“Kiss goodbye today
And head for tomorrow
We did what we had to do
I won’t forget, I can’t regret
What I did for love “
– Edouard KlÃ©ban
âThe original Broadway production spanned 6,137 performances, becoming the longest-running production in Broadway history until it was overtaken by Cats in 1997, and the longest-running Broadway musical produced at the time. originated in the United States, until it was overtaken in 2011 by the rebirth of Chicago. It remains the seventh longest-running Broadway show of all time. “- Wikipedia
On Sunday we saw A Chorus Line a second time. It was even better.
The first act begins with the lights coming on on stage and revealing what looks like thirty or forty people dancing on stage, but it’s an optical illusion. They dance against the backdrop of full-length mirrors that travel the entire distance across the stage. A Broadway musical audition is playing out for us. Soon the cast is singing the song “I Hope I Get It” which means the actors / dancers are auditioning for a role and wanting a job in the choir. The plaintive phrase “I really need this work” is repeated several times. Soon the director calls on the contestants to share who they are. This deepens the personal stories of who they are and what experiences they have had.
Heartwarming and sometimes funny personal stories make up the majority of act one and the opening of act two. It is the individual stories that illustrate the driving force behind the people in the show. âDance: Ten; Looks: Three âreflects the issue with Val (played by Melanie Gladstone) who could not be selected. She glances at an audition scorecard and soon she has her breasts and buttocks increased by plastic surgery and landed roles in various productions. Val does a great job telling her story and dancing to the song, which is commonly referred to as “Tits and Ass”. A second favorite is âAt the Balletâ performed by Sheila (played by Heather Malroy), Bebe (played by Lisa Kelly) and Maggie (played by Cynthia Ryan). The three of them had rotten family lives, “But everything was good at the ballet.” The trio mixed well. You just wanted to reach out to them and give them hope. One of my favorite songs hosted by Zach Edson as Mike was “I Can Do That”. At the age of four, he started taking dance lessons with his sister until she finally refused to go. He took advantage of her refusal, grabbed his tights and shoes, and decided his future by taking his place. On stage, he did a tap dance number with soft shoes ending in a cartwheel and low-five with the entire choir line. The audience responded with wild applause.
One of the funniest songs was portrayed by Nick Fitzgerald as Bobby. Bobby talks about his upper middle class family in upstate New York. He used to break into houses, not to steal, but to rearrange furniture. He is gay and had thought about suicide, but thought suicide and life in Buffalo was unnecessary.
Peg and I loved married couple Kristine and Al (played by Valentine Fry and Josh Wingerter). Kristine is not only shy, but she can’t sing. Al and the company assist him. They are so cute together. We’ve seen Josh perform in Seattle and the Tacoma Musical Playhouse, and we’ve known his parents for decades.
Cassie (played by Whitney Shafer) has a history with the director. She had been catapulted out of the choir years ago and has languished ever since. She can’t wait to return to the choir where she feels comfortable. She has a beautiful solo dance just for her. Her greatest wish is to stay in the choir as long as she can.
The director asks the casting candidates what they will do when they have to leave the choir. Diana (played by Keola Holt) and the company sing the heartfelt song of desire and loss as they must decide on a future that doesn’t include the theater. âWhat I did for loveâ is the realization of what comes next.
âOneâ is the finale. “A singular sensation, every little step she takes.”
This production was directed and choreographed by Eric Clausell. We last saw him in the Art piece at Tacoma Arts Live. Musical direction was by Jeff Bell. The artistic staff all deserve a standing ovation. The cast got one.
A choir line crosses the 29th, but don’t wait for the last performance. . . you might want to review this production. . . and even. Get your tickets soon – tix4.centerstageticketing.com/sites/tacomalittletheater/showdates.php?s_id=298
If you are lucky enough to attend a performance with the actors who come to meet you in the lobby, feel free to speak to the actors and let them know how much you enjoyed the play. It is a singular sensation. . . (Melanie Gladstone and Loucas T. Curry are shown here).