first night

A Chorus Line

Jack Tamber urges you to get in line to see DULOG's summer treat.

Premiering in 1975, James Kirkwood’s A Chorus Line is a rather more modern choice of show than we have come to expect from DULOG for its Easter Term offering. Dealing with issues still relevant to a modern audience, such as homosexuality and maturing into the unknown and an unstable job, A Chorus Line follows a number of dancers auditioning to make the chorus for a new show. As fitting with the show, all the workings of the stage were visible, and the directorial decision to have the meta-director, Zach (Karim Marley), at the back of the auditorium as he grilled his auditionees made the audience feel as part of the process as the cast themselves. And what a process of which to feel a part.

The opening demonstrated the full capabilities of the Assembly Rooms – at least thirty dancers giving their all on a packed stage, made to look slightly bigger by the use of mirrors on the up stage wall, amidst much haze and a rather impressive lighting design (Simon Watson). As the hopeful dancers were whittled down to a smaller group, some exceptionally strong performances emerged. Among these, the most notable was Lydia Stoker.  Sporting nothing more than a rather suggestive pink leotard, Stoker’s Val Clarke was consistently impressive throughout the whole show, rather proudly brandishing her “Tits and Ass”, with strong vocals and an impressive execution of Frances Teehan’s superb choreography. Stoker’s unashamedly provocative confidence in the rather shocking revelation of her… over-developed facets proved particularly impressive.

Madeleine Mutch’s brass Sheila Bryant also demonstrated the tight character direction of the show. This ‘lady’ of the chorus was cynical and independent throughout, though her emotional range truly shone in ‘At the Ballet,’ where some beautiful lighting and the vocal assistance of Rebecca Mackinnon and Olivia Stuart-Taylor expressed this auditionee’s desperation to continue with her career. Mention must go to fresher Sian Dolding, who demonstrated the hard work that goes into “What [they] Did For Love.”

One high point of the show was Joe Leather’s emotional confession as Paul San Marco, the previously closet drag-act. This moving dialogue contrasted well with the intense dancing and comical musical numbers, and reflected Jonnie Grande’s intelligent direction of the show. The other lead-worthy performance was that of Korantema Anyimadu as ‘successful’ Cassie Ferguson, desperate to ‘start again’ as a chorus girl. The exceptionally challenging “Music and the Mirror” appeared to be no difficulty for Anyimadu, who managed to hold the whole stage in a ten-minute long choreographed number, which was both engaging and engaged.

Andrew Macfarlane’s band were full of energy and vibrancy, although occasionally too loud at times and the initial problems with the mic balances were the only other issues with the production.  The unusually high-quality lighting, with incredibly sharp and intense spots on many soloists, demonstrated the abilities of the technical team. Grande’s meticulous direction, Teehan’s incredibly qualified choreography and Macfarlane’s close work with the musical direction of this piece evidently all complimented each other, and left me full of energy. A Chorus Line was a well-rehearsed and almost perfectly polished production. Though I won’t reveal who gets the job, I would strongly advise you go and find out.


17 June 2010

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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