This Christmas the Curve Theatre in Leicester has revived classic Broadway musical A Chorus Line – and the critics seem to love it!
The show is directed by the Curve’s artistic director Nikolai Foster – whose acclaimed production of GREASE is coming to the Dominion Theatre next year (maybe this will transfer in too?), and heart-stopping choreography from Ellen Kane.
Starring Adam Cooper as Zach, A Chorus Line has a book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban, and has iconic songs including One, I Hope I Get It, Nothing and the hit ballad What I Did For Love.
The cast also includes Carly Mercedes Dyer as Cassie, Emily Barnett-Salter as Sheila Bryant, Bradley Delarosbel as Gregory Gardner, Lizzy-Rose Esin-Kelly as Diana Morales, André Fabien Francis as Richie Walters, Ainsley Hall Ricketts as Paul San Marco, Joshua Lay as Al Deluca, Kanako Nakano as Judy Turner, Hicaro Nicolai as Swing, Jamie O’Leary as Mark Anthony, Tom Partridge as Don Kerr, Rachel Jayne Picar as Connie Wong, Chloe Saunders as Val Clarke, Charlotte Scott as Maggie Winslow, Hollie Smith-Nelson as Swing, Marina Tavolieri as Swing and Taylor Walker as Larry.
When it first launched, the show revolutionised the Broadway stage, as creator Michael Bennett used real-life testimonies from late-night recording sessions with chorus dancers, to amplify and celebrate the lives of theatre’s unsung heroes.
What’s the plot? New York City. 1975. On an empty Broadway stage, 17 performers are put through their paces in the final, gruelling audition for a new Broadway musical. Only eight will make the cut. The audition takes an unexpected turn as the director, Zach, invites the performers to open up about their lives and what brought them into theatre. What follows are searing stories of ambition, childhood, shattered dreams and what it means to follow your dreams onto the stage. The emotional stakes are heightened when Zach’s ex-lover Cassie, fresh from an attempt to make it in Hollywood, wants to audition for the chorus line.
Curve Leicester until 31 December 2021.
"The classic musical about Broadway hoofers still packs a punch"
"Although its cultural references are dated, A Chorus Line remains a potent yet sensitive paean to the hard graft of dancers’ lives and careers — rocky upbringings, turning points, doubts, devotion. A sizeable chunk of the show’s interval-free 105 minutes converts individual stories into mostly upbeat musical numbers. These range from Redmand Rance’s nimble-footed I Can Do That and Katie Lee and Joshua Lay’s comic double act in Sing! to At the Ballet, a reverie about the solace of beauty shared between Beth Hinton-Lever, Charlotte Scott and, in a stand-out role as an over-seasoned hoofer, Emily Barnett-Salter."
"The famous finale, featuring the entire ensemble strutting, turning, leaping and high-kicking in sparkling top hots and tails, is genius. The Curve’s rendition of a landmark musical may not be definitive, but it does make clear why A Chorus Line deserves to be revered."
"A thrilling combination of sharp moves and snappy tunes"
"What a thrill, then, to see the deep Curve stage flooded with talented dancers, delighting in one of musical theatre’s most enthralling openings. And 5, 6, 7, 8: off they go, driven on by the irresistible brassy attack of Marvin Hamlisch’s score, rehearsing jazz and ballet combinations, supporting each other. As the group is whittled down, Zach calls on the remaining hopefuls to divulge personal truths while Cassie waits to privately confront him with hers."
"Nikolai Foster’s production, with a tight band and crisp choreography by Ellen Kane, extensively uses live video projection as a camera operator weaves among the dancers. It ramps up the intimacy of some of their stories and accentuates how wannabe movie star, Bobby, is literally ready for his closeup, but could do more to capture the sweaty exhilaration of being among a company of dancers."
"A hit musical returns"
"Nikolai Foster's decision to revive it as the Curve's Christmas offering is a good one: this celebration of the hard work of performers is perfectly timed at the conclusion of a pandemic that saw its star, the exceptional Adam Cooper, applying for a job as a delivery driver because he couldn't find any other work. Yet an industry on its knees has bounced back, determined that the show must go on."
"Nikolai Foster’s new production of the bittersweet backstage musical is vivacious"
"The ensemble delivers quite a husky rendering of Marvin Hamlisch’s score (Emily Barnett-Salter’s outspoken Sheila is particularly throaty), which suits the rawness of the orchestrations. In the non-dancing role of director Zach, Adam Cooper shows that the way he can be fatherly when he wants to be doesn’t compensate for the physical and emotional labour (frankly, bullying) that he demands of his aspirants. As his former lover, the overqualified Cassie, Carly Mercedes Dyer is excellent dancing The Music and the Mirror, if too shouty when trying to persuade Zach to give her a chance to start over."
"Innovative in unexpected ways"
"Flashy production at the Leicester Curve is supremely slick, but hindered by one gimmicky trick"