"A Chorus Line" is One Spectacular Show

Published: Friday, February 2, 2018 By: Eric Schoen Source: Yonkers Rising

The minute the curtain goes up, the lights come on, and a gigantic mirror shines before us, we know where we are at. It’s a place we have traveled before, mostly as viewers leaving the theater humming a memorable Marvin Hamlisch score more than 40 years since we were first introduced. But for many of those gathered, eager thespians at one point or another in our lives, we have tried to be that one in 100 or 1,000 scoring that part on the Great White Way, at theaters close to home similar to the one we are in or somewhere in the vast United States. We are ecstatic if the part is in the chorus. We think as the song says, “we’ve got it,” only to suffer disappointment over and over again. But we keep at it, and one day after the investment of time, money and energy, our dream becomes reality.

“A Chorus Line” has arrived at the Westchester Broadway Theater to delight us during the wintry months through April 1. This performance is better than the one I saw so many years ago on Broadway. That show was at the Shubert Theater. I sat in the balcony, the only seat available in the sold-out gigantic barn of a theater. You could hear everything, but could barely see the faces and emotions of the performers up on stage.

That, my friends, is the beauty of a venue like Westchester Broadway Theater. You are up close to the action and feel as if you are part of it. At points during the show, I felt like jumping on the stage and comforting the actors and actresses or trying out for a part myself. This was my first visit to Westchester Broadway Theater in probably more than 25 years. Last time I attended, the meal consisted of an elaborate buffet. I prefer the sit-down dinner currently featured, where you can pace yourself and not overeat and better enjoy the show. Our waitress Miranda could not have been kinder. Informed of my dietary needs, she went out of her way to make sure everything from the poached fish for dinner to the fresh cut-up fruit for dessert met my requirements. She even suggested that guests call in advance if they have special dietary requests that for health reasons or otherwise must be met.

One of the longest-running Broadway musicals ever, “A Chorus Line” is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and nine Tony Awards, including best musical. It propelled the stage lives of many actors as well as members of the creative team. The story behind “A Chorus Line” is not complicated. It is a celebration of those who receive little recognition for the important role they play in musical theater. They are the unsung heroes, chorus dancers – valiant, over- dedicated, underpaid and highly trained performers who make the leads in a show shine brightly. The characters in “A Chorus Line” are based on real-life experiences of Broadway dancers and those auditioning in theaters across the country and throughout the land.

You don’t have to have a passion for performing to find the powerful stories presented by the “choristers” appealing. They come from upper crust and low-income backgrounds. Their stories are truly touching, funny, inspiring and relatable to anyone who knows how the theater operates – or frankly, anyone who has applied for a job, faces competition, a complex interview process and a final “yes, you’ve got it” or “no, thanks for applying.” You would think that a show over 40 years old would be dated. What takes place in “A Chorus Line” takes place in theater tryout studios all over the world. The little girl from Oklahoma, or anyplace in the heartland who comes to New York looking for that big break. Week after week, showing up for stage calls, getting turned down 99 percent of the time, and looking forward to that 1 percent chance to appear in the chorus and spread one’s wings from there.

This beloved and iconic musical by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, with a brilliant and show-stopping score by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban still shine over 40 years after it appeared on the Great White Way. You know the songs and you leave the theater humming their glorious melodies, including “I Can Do That,” “At the Ballet,” “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three,” “The Music and the Mirror,” “What I Did for Love,” “One (Singular Sensation)” and “I Hope I Get It.” I won’t single out any member of the cast for their artistry, but I must say that Westchester Broadway Theater has selected a cast that sparkles and works well as an ensemble on stage. This show is perfect for all members of the family with but one note: The 2-hour-and-15-minute show is played without intermission, so head to the loo after dinner and before the performance begins.