A Chorus Line - and what a chorus line! I was wowed by this performance of A Chorus Line presented by the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group. At times I almost thought I was watching a professional West End or Broadway production.
A truly heartfelt performance
The original Broadway production of A Chorus Line opened in 1975 and has become a popular show for many theatre groups. It follows the story of 17 dancers as they go through the gruelling audition process, seeking recruitment to the chorus line of a professional show. We come to understand the full pressures of the industry, not only through watching the dancers drill multiple routines over and over, but also in hearing their personal stories, as the director asks them to share their personal experience on how they became performers.
Each dancer shares a story which leads to a new song in the musical, such as I Can Do That and At The Ballet. Each dancer reveals their own past experiences which led them to performing, most of the stories being full of hardship, rejection, insecurity and anguish.
The show explores themes of body image, failure and self discovery, all symptoms of a dancer’s life. Essentially, A Chorus Line is a musical about the life of a musical, a dive into the lives of performers who star in musical ensembles, often underpaid, struggling to find work, yet still eager to make it to the big stage no matter what it takes.
The show begins with I Hope I Get It, with this section of the show requiring the cast both to drill in character the dance they’re being “taught” and also as vocalists to perform the song. I was very impressed from the start with the vocals; the harmonies were fantastic, loud and clear - so much so that even when there was a microphone issue, I could still hear clearly. This happened while Lucy McClure who portrays Val was performing Dance:Ten, Looks:Three, her mic completely dropped out, but she projected beautifully and had an impressive belt.
Another stand out vocal performance for me was from Allison Lavercombe who plays Maggie. Performing At The Ballet, she has this gorgeous tone to her voice reminiscent of Barbara Streisand at times. It certainly stunned me, and was a truly heartfelt performance.
Gordon Stackhouse and Minnie Cross, who play Al and Kristine, gave a fabulous comedic performance of Sing. Cross’ character Kristine is tone deaf and her husband Al (Stackhouse) finishes each line for her because she can't 'sing'.
If I could compliment all of the cast members I would, because they were all truly impressive. The cast fully embodies each character and their songs. Not once did I see a drop in act or accent, and even when they had issues with space they continued on. I was impressed by this as the stage was quite small and the cast were quite cramped at times.
For a university group, there was a genuinely professional air to this performance, with every song performed well, not one cast member falling short, and a live band to play the score of the musical as opposed to backing tracks which can ruin the experience of a theatre performance.
This was a stunning and impressive performance.