Two hours and 10 minutes of sitting in the gorgeous 5th Avenue Theatre with no intermission immerses you in the stories of each character encountered. A Chorus Line has the elaborate dance numbers of a Broadway showstopper, but also the intimate feel of underground theater as characters twist, twirl, yell, and even weep before you.
Winner of nine Tony Awards, this musical is regarded as a classic in the world of theater. With its age in mind — it first opened in 1975 — the storyline seems notably edgy as it wrestles with questions of sexuality and daddy issues, and presents a brand new look into the grueling showbiz audition procedure through the eyes of 17 young dancers auditioning for a coveted place in a Broadway chorus line. You’ll meet Mike, the youngest of 12 siblings, who learned to dance to prove himself; Richie, an almost kindergarten teacher turned dancer; and Cassie, the desperately ambitious fallen starlet. These and other young men and women bravely step up and share their life stories. The show ends up being more of a process than the unfolding of a gripping plot.
Even for a lazy Sunday afternoon matinee performance, the theater was nothing short of packed, with nearly every seat filled in anticipation of the next two hours. Having been to numerous musicals at various theaters, I expected the usual wide range of age diversity, but I was instead mildly surprised to find mostly seniors in attendance. I often heard their chuckles throughout the performance, perhaps recounting when they saw it back when it opened. If you’re looking for a “Throwback Thursday,” A Chorus Line successfully delivers the audience back to 1975. That said, the potential generational gap between script and viewer could be a warning to youth considering seeing this. Approaching A Chorus Line with an analytical, open mind rather than expecting side-splitting jokes and a complex plot is advised, teen to teen.
A Chorus Line
5th Avenue Theatre
September 3 - 28