Favorite

A chorus of cheers 

‘A Chorus Line’

Arkansas Repertory Theatre

June 2

“A Chorus Line” ruled Broadway for 15 years, winning nine Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize. This year marks its 30th anniversary, just as this is the 30th anniversary of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, making it a symbolic and appropriate choice for the last Rep show of the season. While there were flaws here and there opening night, I suggest you rush and buy your tickets now.

Rep founder and the director of this production, Cliff Fannin Baker, suffered a heart attack just days before opening night and, while word is that his prognosis is good, it’s a wonderful chance to pay tribute to what Baker’s given to the community.

The production, a look into the world of an audition for a place in a Broadway chorus line, has stayed true to the 1970s dialogue and costumes, yet the play doesn’t seem dated a bit. Perhaps the only topical matter lacking that would, no doubt, affect this group of characters would be AIDS.

Rather than have this multi-talented group of hopefuls simply sing and dance for him, the director, Zac (Bob Gaynor), asks them to talk. Just talk. About themselves.

Some common themes emerge and make for particularly moving pieces, such as the escape from miserable home lives that ballet class provided, talked and sung about by Sheila, Bebe and Maggie (Hollie Howard, Kolina Janneck and Deborah Leamy).

Kathryn Mowat Murphy, a Bernadette Peters look-alike who plays the lead of Cassie, makes the play worth seeing all on her own. While the love story of an aging chorus dancer who is now auditioning for her former lover, Zac, is dull in moments, her dancing is so refined and gorgeous that she should not be missed. She is, simply, stunning.

Christina LaDuca, however, comes close to stealing the show as Diana with the famous numbers “Nothing” and “What I Did for Love.” Seeming a bit worn by the end of the show when “What I Did for Love” arrives, LaDuca’s ensemble holds her up, and I have no doubt that as the production progresses, she will only strengthen.

Stephen Baker, as Mark, is the best male dancer in the line, though he has few speaking parts. Little Rock-local Dennis Glasscock, is, as always, dependable and talented as Larry, the Dance Captain. Joi Chen as Connie is worth noting for the fun she’s having and for the fact that she’s a student at Hendrix College.

Having as much fun as Chen is Colleen Hawks as Val, who sings the well-known and bawdy “Dance: Ten, Looks: Three”; she is a knockout and surely knows how to bring fun and life to a sagging body in a show that doesn’t sag at all.

We overheard another playgoer suggest that Hollie Howard might have been miscast as Sheila, a cigarette-smoking and Valium-popping, sarcastic woman unafraid to express her anger. One suspects that Howard’s true nature is much too sweet to be convincing as this angry person. However, she’s perfectly on the mark.

The choreography is top-notch, particularly in the opening, the montages and finale. The lighting is perfect, bringing the characters together and isolating them at the right moment while staying rather subtle. The set is the classic “Chorus Line” set — a bare stage backed with mirrors. Producer Robert Hupp and Cliff Baker deserve a standing ovation for bringing this one to the Rep on the cusp of its Broadway revival, especially Baker for the direction.

The play, which runs through July 2, runs a little more than two hours and has no intermission. Shows are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays, 7 p.m. Wednesdays, and 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with 2 p.m. Saturday matinees through June.

— Joy Ritchey

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Joy Ritchey

  • 'Yesterday' holds up

    The classic at the Rep asks: “Are the people gonna run the country or is the country gonna run the people?”
    • Mar 22, 2007
  • Near perfect 'King'; 'Daughter' hard to raise

    Lush and lavish, the Rep’s “The King and I” is a fantastic holiday play. "American Daughter," however, has aged a bit and the Weekend Theater crew may not have been completely prepared to take it on just yet.
    • Dec 7, 2006
  • George Wittenberg: downtown visionary

    When George Wittenberg sent me his address I didn’t look at it closely. It wasn’t until the morning of our interview that I read it and thought, “Huh? This isn’t near the River Market.” I was so certain that was where he lived. I plugged the address into
    • Nov 16, 2006
  • More »

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • An uneven 'Macbeth'

    Michael Stewart Allen as Macbeth carries the play.
    • Sep 17, 2015

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Little Rock will next week host a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems led by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Latest in Theater Reviews

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation