June 26, 2007 > Theater Review
A Chorus Line
By Diana Marroquin
Stage 1 Community Theatre has succeeded in creating a fun, snappy rendition of the Broadway musical, A Chorus Line. It comes through with well-inserted humor, the right touch of sassiness and strong vocals.
Most plays are about heroes and heroines - the protagonists around which almost any story revolves. What makes A Chorus Line such an enduring tale and well-loved musical is that it's not about the usual heroes. Instead, it's a study of the unsung heroes - the background and bit players - whose job it is to slip into the shadows of any story line, but without whom the story would be incomplete.
Stage 1's A Chorus Line does a good job of weaving together the varied histories of lives thrown together into a brutal common cause - the Chorus Line - and shapes them into a tapestry of lives lived through struggles and successes.
The unsung, yet powerful, protagonists of A Chorus Line are the Jane's and Joe's within whom we each see a little of ourselves: Their failures become our failures; their pain, our pain; their doubts, our doubts; and their triumphs, our triumphs. They're the misfits and loners looking back at us from our mirrors, but by their perseverance and determination, they're also the champions of the dreams we strive for.
Though Stage 1's A Chorus Line is a little weak on dancing, it makes up for the deficit by the vocal strength of its major musical numbers, particularly audience favorites, "I Can Do That", "Dance: 10; Looks: 3", and "What I Did For Love."
Sheila's interpretation of come-on-strong sardonic wit elicits much genuine laughter from the audience; and Val's "Dance: 10; Looks: 3" is belted out with such enjoyable sassiness that it could easily turn into the audience's favorite solo.
Zach's vocal timbre combines authority with passion - a particularly important requirement since Zach is rarely seen. His voice acts as the catalyst driving the story, and it needs to do what his physical presence would normally accomplish.
Paul's painful account of his introduction to dance is said with a true vulnerability; while Cassie's head-high kicks in "The Music and the Mirror" honor the original scene. The show's wrap-up uses "What I Did For Love" to good effect, by Diana, whose vocal talents grace the play in more than one solo.
Richie, Bobby, Bebe, and the rest of the dancers give smart, funny, and at times poignant performances throughout the play - although their voices were occasionally slightly overpowered by the orchestra, making it hard to hear the lyrics.
The Orchestra was challenged by their proximity to the stage and audience; but they none-the-less managed to put a snazzy pop into their musical accompaniments while balancing their volume against the singers, in spite of a few instances of playing over them.
All-in-all, Stage 1's A Chorus Line is to be appreciated. It's funny in the right spots, moving in tender moments, and painful when it should be. It accomplishes what it set out to do - provide a quality community theater experience, allowing you to lose yourself in the world of entertainment for a few precious hours.
A Chorus Line sends you out the door humming a song, tapping your feet, bouncing to the beat, while having just stepped off a well-maintained emotional vehicle - and that's what a successful musical is all about!
A Chorus Line will run every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, thru July 7 at Newark Memorial High School, on 39375 Cedar Boulevard, Newark. For information and tickets call 510-791-0287, or go online at www.stage1theatre.org