“A 5,6,7,8”. Four numbers that will kick the mind of any dancer into full overdrive. A Chorus Line is one of the most difficult ‘simple’ shows to stage. It requires very little in the ways of set and costume, partnered with the challenge of finding a host of strong triple-threat actors who can perform all aspects of such a meaty book.
Richard Perdriau’s direction of this production is superb. He has discovered ways of keeping the staging interesting and incorporating the ‘cut’ ensemble members throughout the show in a way that I have never witnessed before. The characters are clearly defined, the ensemble dancers are not distracting and not a single line of dialogue is swept under the carpet. I must offer a special mention to the stage crew for the amount of time they spend standing behind the mirrors, so that they can be moved seamlessly throughout various numbers. Your patience and precision does not go unnoticed.
Known primarily for it’s dance requirements, A Chorus Line places much pressure on the choreographer who takes on the challenge. From the opening number, David Harford’s choreography is precise, synchronised and bursting with high energy. Notably the ballet sequence in “At the Ballet” and the opening number were absolutely highlights of the evening.
Looking down ‘the line’, one this is crystal clear – this is a cast of very strong triple threats (though vocally there are some slight discrepancies). Notable stand-outs are Abbey Hansson as Maggie – for her outstanding rendition of “At the Ballet” and “Mother”, Louisa Mitchell for her delightful portrayal of Kristine, Yann Tixhon’s suave rendering of Greg, and Dean Robinson’s fantastic delivery of Mark’s puberty monologue. The role of dance captain; Larry, provides Dylan Henry with a complete showcase of his exceptional talents as a dancer. Although is role is relatively ‘minor’ in comparison to other roles, Henry’s incredible stage presence makes it feel as though he never leaves the stage.
The role of Cassie is tough. She needs to be a plausible actress with killer pipes. In addition to this she needs to live up to the many mentions of her being the best dancer on the stage, with a 10 minute solo number that includes a four minute dance routine. Melanie Ott is a great actress and smashes this number both on an acting and vocal level. Unfortunately though, she is not quite the type of dancer that one would describe as ‘the best on stage’. Her dance solo is relatively simple, her turns are awkward, and her inability to carry the number solo, is compensated by the addition of four male dancers who take turns to dip and spin her around the stage.
Led by maestro Daniel Heskett, the orchestra (as always) is a tight unit. Featuring a host of Melbourne’s finest musicians – many of which play on the professional circuit, it’s no surprise that the music was so complimentary with the show as a whole. It’s musicians like these take make a strong case for the fight for better pay on the amateur circuit (where it can be afforded). Congratulations to all.
This production is solid. It’s clever, it’s highly entertaining and it is a clear demonstration of why CLOC Music Theatre is celebrated as being one of the greatest amateur theatre companies in the country. The standard they present is consistently borderline professional and A Chorus Line is no exception. It is running for an unfortunately very short season – so make sure that you book fast.
Photography: Ben Fon