Posts Tagged ‘dancers


A Chorus Line…the revival replica

A Chorus Line


A Chorus Line 

TML Enterprises 

QPAC Lyric Theatre

16th November – 2nd December 2012


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


“A classic Broadway musical for a new generation.”

…but just what is it telling them?


For a “timeless musical” (certainly one of the most loved movie musicals of all time), this one sure feels dated. And long. No interval, kids. As the lights came up at the end of the show on opening night in Brisbane, all I could do was sit and think, “Wow. Wow. WOW. THAT’S IT?! WHAT WAS THAT?!” I was in shock! That was the finale? That was the show I grew up singing and dancing to in the living room? That was the song (Nothing) that I sang as my contrasting monologue at auditions for tertiary studies? That was the girl (Cassie) too good for the chorus line? Okay. It’s fair to say that you might have loved this production. In fact, you probs did. It’s probs just me. Is it just me? I know Caroline Hutchinson was there on opening night; perhaps it should be a Mix FM segment after you’ve all seen the show. Because you should see this show. And then let me know what you think.


What I think is this: Tim Lawson et al saw the revival production on Broadway and thought we should see it here. But what we are seeing here is not what they saw there. It’s a copy and it’s lost its heart and soul somewhere between New York City and here. Did no one take on the responsibility of breathing new life into Michael Bennett’s original work? Instead of a fresh and vibrant new version, we get a vague, half-arsed homage to a vision that, for a whole new generation is questionable, and to the older ones, those more familiar with it, almost laughable.


A Chorus Line is a show about dancers, about heart and soul and blood and guts and sweat and tears. You don’t do it without investing a substantial amount of self. Like any show, you give it your all…and then a little bit more. The last time we saw A Chorus Line was on the Sunshine Coast and the heart and soul that went into that production came across very clearly. Choreographer and Producer, Paul Attow, staged a production in 2004 in Nambour  (I know, right?), something he’d always wanted to do. In fact, putting on A Chorus Line meant so much to him that he mortgaged his house to do so. After 2 successful combined theatre companies’ musicals, the stakes were high, and the production was a hit and most of the performances were as “professional” as we’d seen. As an example, let’s consider Brett Klease’s performance, compared to the monochromatic outbursts from this current Zach (Joshua Horner). Now, let’s get one thing straight. We don’t care what else you’ve done. Sure, a long list of Broadway or West End (alright, or reality TV show) credits could indicate immense talent but I say you’re only as good as the guts you’re willing to give in the show you’re in. Unfortunately, it appears that Horner tried to be as least like Michael Douglas as possible (Douglas made the role famous in the 1985 film), and in complete contrast, comes across as harsh, loud and just plain irritable. Klease, on the other hand (currently performing in Caravan at Noosa Arts Theatre), in 2004, was able to show the many colours, tones and textures that make up the complex man who cast and directs the Broadway show for which 17 hopefuls line up. In the line-up is his past love, Cassie.


Most of these current performers seem…un-stretched. I feel like they want to go there but there’s been no one to say, with a sparkle in their eyes, “GO THERE! DO IT! YOU CAN DO IT!” Perhaps they did go there in 4 previous cities in Australia, perhaps not. This production has received mixed reviews and I know singers, actors, and dancers, dance teachers and non-performers have all loved it. But I want to go on those massive journeys with the characters, not just watch them from afar. I want to feel the same way I do when I watch the movie, or the doco, Every Little Step. I mean have you SEEN that doco? It’s amazing, about how the show came together originally, after Michael Bennett sat down with a group of dancers and a couple of bottles of wine one night, and recorded everything they had to say about the industry, their lives, their loves and their tough skins. It’s real. On the other hand, I haven’t been this unaffected by the stories in a live show since David Atkins’ odd production of West Side Story.



Paul (Ross Hannaford) nearly went there, Diana (Karlee Misipeka) nearly went there and then, with the exception of Will Keith as Greg, we watch cardboard cutouts strutting about (Samantha! I mean Sheila! Really?! Others love her.), that didn’t get anywhere near revealing a full personality, despite the fact that this is the show in which to do so. THIS IS THAT SHOW. We should see more than the iconic poses from each character. We should see more than Cassie and Zach shouting at each other downstage. Geez. What was that? IS IT JUST ME?


A Chorus Line


Luckily, we saw A1 dancing and enjoyed some top voices. (Well, you know if Maggie can’t get “At the Ballet…” you might as well get up and leave but Nadia Komazec underplayed Maggie beautifully, belted that top note and made that number). Look, some of them were maybe thinking, “God, I hope I get it!” on opening night rather than actually getting it. Apparently there were no previews in Brisbane? Perhaps that would have solved the sound issue for the Lyric Theatre (Paul White, we miss the bigger, bolder, brassier sound from Marvin Hamlisch’s score! Is it a System Sound Associates thing? I heard similar comments about the sound for Carmen. In fact, the best sound I’ve heard in the Lyric Theatre in a while was at Rock of Ages.). God, I hope they’ve learned from that.


The problem is not what will the audience like (well, clearly that’s a challenge for the investors, promoters and venues), but will this be the pinnacle of Australian musical theatre at this time? What does excellent currently look like, sound like? This? Really? Just this? And there’s the problem. As far as aspiring musical theatre performers (and their teachers) in Australia can ascertain, the current touring production of A Chorus Line is what excellent looks like, sounds like.


The quality of a production ultimately lies with the director and while Baayork Lee is my favourite Connie, and while she has remained faithful to the original production’s look and choreography (as noted, the choreography is executed by all with aplomb), I just don’t think that beyond the dance, she’s done all that she can with it. On the other hand, perhaps she has and, ultimately, that’s the problem with this little revival replica.




Auditions: Free Spirit Entertainment

A Night With the Mob

Free Spirit Entertainment is seeking male dancers to join their touring production company.


Regular performances for a brand new cabaret show are currently being scheduled throughout South East Queensland.

You will need to be at an intermediate-expert level with some experience in performance in at least one of the following styles:

Jazz, Tango, Salsa, Cuban Rhumba or Theatre.

You must be a fast learner, who picks up routines quickly, works well with others and has a positive attitude.

Rehearsals (unpaid) are held on Saturdays in Nambour, Queensland, Australia.

Payment details: $100-200 per show depending on experience.



Bliss Boogie Nights

Free Spirit Dance & Music School is about connecting with who you are, celebrating who you are, being comfortable in your own skin, accepting and loving your body, your physical self and your metaphysical self.

By offering traditional dance and music styles from across the globe, we celebrate our own cultures and we celebrate the cultures of others.