Something about glittery, perfectly-synchronized legs going up and down, left and right to the beat of the music almost always makes an audience stand up and cheer. The Northern Kentucky University Theater Department’s latest production of the Broadway musical classic “A Chorus Line” is no exception to the rule.
“A Chorus Line” takes the audience behind the glitz and glamour of a production and invites it to sit in on the chorus auditions to a Broadway show. The stage is stripped down to a white dance line and a mirror. Hopeful performers swing, jump and step-ball-change around the stage. They nervously smile as hard as they can for a director who they pray will pick them for his production. The play follows these performers through the audition and in the process introduces us to the personalities of the dancers who want nothing more than to become the nameless performers who make up a chorus line.
Original Broadway cast-member Mitzi Hamilton’s recreation of the original choreography was literally breathtaking. The high-energy opening number “I Hope I Get It” was emotionally and physically exhausting as the auditioning director Zach (Gabe Johnson) rapidly fired off orders and steps for the auditioning performers. By the end of the number, I was having theatrical sympathy pains. I felt like I needed to take five and catch my breath along with the performers.
The intensity of the first number continued through the rest of the show as the characters one by one revealed their personalities to Zach. The large show relies on unique characters to illuminate a depressingly bare set.
Paul (David Rowland) introduces himself in an emotional monologue that describes his journey to Broadway dancing.
This show proves that not only is Rowland an exceptional singer and dancer, he’s also a powerful dramatic actor.
While Paul and the rest of the characters hope for their first big break, Cassie (Sarah Peak) is veteran dancer who shares a romantic past with Zach and wants to return to Broadway after an attempt to make it in Hollywood. Peak sings, acts and dances her way into sympathetically portraying one of the show’s most complex characters.
Director Mark Hardy and the cast and crew of “A Chorus Line” have artfully recreated the fever-pitch excitement of an audition while exploring the motivation of the actors who are willing to put everything “on the line” in order to make it on Broadway.