The 5th Avenue Theatre’s season-opening revival of “A Chorus Line” ends with “One” — a glitzy song-and-dance number featuring a top-hatted, high-kicking chorus paying tribute to a “singular sensation” leading lady.
The show itself has been a singular sensation since conquering Broadway nearly 40 years ago. And claims at the time that its conceiver-director-choreographer Michael Bennett had revolutionized the Great American Musical have largely held up.
We take for granted now much of what was so groundbreaking in this unique work about a group of chorus performers, urged to bare their souls in an audition.
The frank discussions of homosexuality and family dysfunction. The creative interlacing of dance and dialogue. The equitable focus on the ensemble, rather than on individual stars. It all seems quite natural now, in David Bennett’s engaging remount of “A Chorus Line.”
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The breezy wisecracks and heartfelt monologues in the James Kirkwood-Nicholas Dante book (based partly on dancers’ oral histories), Marvin Hamlisch’s and Edward Kleban’s memorable score, and a poignant focus on what performers sacrifice and live for, just to win a place in the “line,” may not be as fresh as they were, but remain vital. And the late Bennett’s great dances, variations on a straight and splintered chorus line, are faithfully reconstructed by Kerry Casserly, who appeared in the first, record-breaking Broadway run.
But the focus now tends to be on the crop of young singer-dancer-actors who get their turns in the roving spotlight. A good many in the 5th Avenue cast hail from Seattle, and acquit themselves well.
Gabriel Corey as spunky Mike, strutting his stuff with the tune “I Can Do That”; Paul Flanagan and Mallory King as adorable married dancers Al and Kristine; and Trina Mills as seductive, jaded Sheila, are local standouts. (Also Taryn Darr, whose saucy stint as makeover queen Val ends Sunday, when Meaghan Foy takes over the part.)
Chryssie Whitehead, a smoldering Lola in 5th Avenue’s “Damn Yankees,” returns in a lithe, impassioned portrayal of Cassie, the veteran dancer who begs director Zach (Andrew Palermo) to let her back into the chorus.
And Katrina Asmar, as Puerto Rican hopeful Diana, displays a powerhouse voice in the show’s signature tune “What I Did for Love.” It’s too bad that over-singing or over-miking (hard to tell which) puts such a harsh finish on some of her featured vocals, and those of local light Sarah Rose Davis, who plays the auditioner Maggie. Both triple-threats are very gifted, and adjustments are in order.
Misha Berson: email@example.com