A CHORUS LINE is a show that really magnifies the idea of a true triple threat, something that CCM prides itself on producing. The current production of the show on the Patrica Corbett Theatre stage features a handful of superstars who really do have it all.
The show begins in an audition room in New York City, as director Zach is looking for four males and four females for the chorus of a new Broadway show. Hopefuls line up and tell their stories, breaking out into the occasional song and dance number as we learn about the lives of these aging performers, their backgrounds, their dreams, and more.
Ionic songs like “One,” “What I Did for Love,” and “The Music and the Mirror” populate the two hour production giving the cast an opportunity to show off their singing, acting, and dancing. But when it comes to dancing, I’d hoped for more. I expected more unison, especially in the finale.
But the things that work work very well. Alec Cohen as “Mike” shines bright in “I Can Do That.” Kyra Christopher nails the characterization of “Sheila” with authenticity and realism. Brynn Purvis is delightful as “Kristine” and Tyler Johnson-Campion camps it up in the best way possible as “Bobby.” I love Keaton Whittaker as “Connie,” and Phillip Johnson Richardson nearly steals the show as “Ritchie.” Briana Latrash performs well as “Val,” and Madelaine Vandenberg sounds especially great as “Bebe.” Hamilton Moore anchors the show well as “Zach,” too. Casey Wenger-Schulman (“Diana”) can always be counted on for a solid performance.
Kimberly Pine throws herself into the role of “Cassie” and dances the best solo of the show. But for me it is the monologue of Christopher Kelley as “Paul” that gives this production heart and soul. The way he recounts his experiences as a young gay man in a non-gay-friendly world is heartbreaking. It is singularly the best moment in the show and I didn’t want it to end.
I also loved watching Evan Roider conduct his orchestra, which sounded great. The costumes by Lindi-Joy Wilson and wigs by Danae R. Jimenez add to the production, too.
A CHORUS LINE is a difficult production for college-aged students to perform, as the characters are mostly older but not old enough to be “characters.” And thus there is a disconnect between the script and the performance. Not only that, it’s hard to truly understand – and project – what it is to be near the end of your career when you’re just about to start and thus the acting is lacking overall.
But the hard work, dedication, and skill-built talent on stage makes the show work anyway. It’s worth seeing.
A CHORUS LINE runs at UC-CCM through October 30th in the Patricia Corbett Theatre. Click here for more information.