THE MUSIC MAN
With Seán Martinfield
A CHORUS LINE - A Singular Sensation!
August 4, 2006
The production of A CHORUS LINE currently at San Francisco's
Curran Theatre until September 2nd is the one and only out-of-town
tryout for this Broadway Revival scheduled to open October 5th
at New York's Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 45th & Broadway.
Thirty-one years have passed since the musical opened at New
York's Shubert Theatre. It stayed there for the next 15 years.
In addition to winning 9 out of its 12 Tony Award nominations,
it permanently changed the landscape of the Broadway Musical.
Come the 2007 Tony nominations, this revival of composer Marvin
Hamlisch's A CHORUS LINE and the re-created / re-vitalized direction
and choreography of Michael Bennett might very well surpass its
previous take of the coveted award. Attendance records may be
broken at the Schoenfeld Theatre as well. Across the board, each
of the performers defines the notion of "The Triple Threat",
i.e., dancing abilities on a par with musicianship & singing
skills, both matching the strength and readiness of the acting
chops. In short, the potential to sustain a career in any one
of three fields of endeavor. Add to this a fourth element - they
are all extremely charming. The gimmick of the story being the
reality of the audition process - from the 19 who make the final
callback, only 8 will be kept. But which? The tension is authentic.
Surely the Producers will find the money to hire them all. How
can the Director ("Zach") make such choices and who
the hell is he, anyway? For this production, it is the very stunning
Michael Berresse - familiar to Broadway audiences as "Bill"
(KISS ME KATE), "Giuseppe" (LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA), and
"Billy Flynn" (CHICAGO). What was "Cassie"
thinking when she left his bed and took off for Hollywood to dance
in a TV commercial as a "Band-Aid?
In the coveted role of "Cassie", it is the amazing
and much under-used Charlotte d'Amboise who scored the operatic
"Bravas!" of the evening. Although well rewarded for
her Broadway appearances as "Roxie Hart" (CHICAGO),
"Charity" (in SWEET CHARITY) and "Lola" (DAMN
YANKEES), Ms. d'Amboise finally gets her chance to come through
and exhibits the stuff of legendary Broadway Divas. Although "Cassie"
is begging her former lover "Zach" for a position in
the chorus, Charlotte d'Amboise will never again serve as anyone's
Understudy or Replacement. "Oh, The Lady In Red" - she
took our breath away.
Everything is beautiful about Mara Davi in the role of "Maggie".
Owning and belting an authentic 4th-space E for the climax of
"At The Ballet", she will be making her Broadway debut
come October. Joining in that statistic, Natalie Cortez (as "Morales")
brings the whole schmear to the delightful "Nothing"
and to what has been deservedly labeled as the "overworked
/ overdone / oh-so-tired" number - "What I Did For Love".
Not any more! Ms. Cortez infuses freshness and new life into a
ballad long ago moaned and whined to death. Encore!
Clearly in the It's About Time Department - taking on the attitude
of "Sheila" is the beautiful and statuesque Deidre Goodwin.
Not since Audra McDonald's tempestuous stir as "Carrie Pepperidge"
in CAROUSEL has a role been so obviously in need of and so perfectly
realized by this Quadruple Threat and Black Performer.
In the Male Department, Jason Tam scored huge as the shy and
diminutive "Paul", the pathetic little Gay boy who suffers
permanent knee injury during rehearsal. Paul McGill is a natural
for the admittedly strange but gifted "Mark". With such
recent Broadway credits as DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS and SWEET SMELL
OF SUCCESS under his belt, the swarthy and black booted Michael
Paternostro proved his sense of humor as "Greg" and
drew much sympathy as one of those eliminated in the final cut.
James T. Lane (as "Richie") makes the cut and was very
much on the ball with "Gimme the ball, gimme the ball".
This CHORUS LINE seems as vibrant and unconventional as it was
three decades ago. The production and cast are very near to perfection
- perhaps a quicker follow on one of the spots during the first
15 minutes of its Intermission-free two acts, maybe a day-off
and some vocal rest for its fabulously talented, close to being
perfectly perfect ensemble. Consider yourself lucky if you are
in possession of a ticket to this second production in the "Best
of Broadway" series brought to San Francisco by producer
Carol Shorenstein Hays.
To purchase tickets on line: http://www.bestofbroadway-sf.com/tickets/index.asp
My first point of critical support is whether or not to tell
those closest to me to purchase whatever ticket is available.
For this all too brief San Francisco run of A CHORUS LINE, it
does not matter where you sit - but that you go.