Theater Review: ‘A Chorus Line’ at New York City Center

By Jonathan Spira on 17 November 2018
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When “A Chorus Line” opened at the Shubert Theatre on July 25, 1975, it became an almost unprecedented box office and critical hit, receiving 12 Tony Award nominations and garnering nine.

The show, set on a bare stage of a Broadway theater and focusing on 17 chorus boys and girls in an all-day audition for a spot on the chorus line of an unspecified Broadway musical, was itself a “singular sensation” (as the song goes) and almost singlehandedly revived what was then a moribund theater district. It ran for 15 years and 6,137 performances, becoming the longest running production in Broadway history, easily outdistancing its predecessors “Grease” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” although it has since been surpassed by “Cats” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”

Almost half a century later, “A Chorus Line,” which was revived on Broadway in 2006 and in the West End in 2013 and which, directed by Bob Avian and choreographed by Baayork Lee, opened Wednesday at City Center as part of that institution’s 75th anniversary gala year, shows what the chorus boys and girls did and continue to do for love, without regret.

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This production – as almost all others of the show – doesn’t fall far from the tree. Ms. Lee was Connie in the original production and Mr. Avian was the choreographer, along with Michael Bennett. The sets by Robin Wagner, costumes by Theoni Aldredge, and lighting by Tharon Musser are virtual replicas of the original.

In short, little has changed, least of which the story ofthe heart-breaking relationship between Zach (a gruff but lovable Tony Yazbeck) and Cassie (a show-stopping Robyn Hurder).

Indeed, it’s been over a decade since I last saw “A Chorus Line” and I felt the same chill as the curtain went up. “I’m going to go to the High School of the Performing Arts,” sings Diana (Tara Kostmeyer). [Hey! that’s part of the school (LaGuardia) that I got into.]

While the individual boys and girls of the chorus line reveal the events and tragedies that have shaped their lives, one hardly notices that time has marched on (does anyone even take Darvon anymore?).

Still, the anonymity of the chorus line is great and most visible as the boys and girls of the chorus perform “One” in full and identical costume, making it almost impossible to tell them apart and illustrating how they too have been consumed by show biz.

Oh, and the audience? They all felt something.

THE DETAILS

A Chorus Line
Limited Engagement Through November 18, 2018
City Center
131 W 55th StreetNew York, N.Y. 10019
Runtime: Two hours and five minutes, no intermission
www.nycitycenter.org

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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