WBT revives classic ‘A Chorus Line’

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 By: Tom Holehan Source: Post-Chronicle

“A Chorus Line,” Michael Bennett’s ground-breaking Pulitzer Prize winning musical from 1975, is currently enjoying an impressive revival at Westchester Broadway Theatre. Time has not dimmed the theatre legend.

Produced on a mostly bare stage without intermission and with limited costume changes, the show takes place one long day at an audition as a group of “gypsies” all compete with each other for a few available roles. We learn the back-stories of many of these performers, some humorous, some very sad, and get to know and root for all of them to eventually succeed. That heart of “A Chorus Line” has been preserved in Westchester under director/choreographer Mark Martino who wisely resists trying to fuss with or improve on Michael Bennett’s landmark work.

The WBT revival features a strong company of singers/dancers bringing new life to a remarkable score that begins with the thrilling opener, “I Hope I Get It”. Individual performers then have the opportunity to take center stage and strut their stuff. Drew Carr’s rendition of “I Can Do That” is a ferocious tap number that truly delivers while “At the Ballet” finds Lauren Sprague, Emily Kelly and Kelsey Walston in gorgeous counterpart as they each reveal childhoods redeemed only by taking ballet. Alexandra Matteo, in the plum role of Diana, gets to sing both “Nothing” and the musical’s signature song, “What I Did for Love” and scores with each.

Also in the company is a very strong David Elder who avoids all the clichés playing Zach, the director running the audition. As Cassie, his ex-girlfriend back for a chance in the spotlight, Erica Mansfield is a force of nature dancing the demanding solo “Music and the Mirror” and bringing down the house in the process. And though his long sad monologue about growing up gay has always been a tad mawkish for my tastes, Michael John Hughes brings depth and critical poignancy to the role of Paul.

Andrew Gmoser’s lighting design stays true to Tharon Musser’s state-of-the-art original and the orchestra, under the musical direction of Bob Bray, would make Mr. Hamlish very proud. “A Chorus Line” is still a period classic that will always be worth reviving especially in polished productions like the one in Elmsford.

** excerpts from a longer article.