Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
Also see Fred's review of The Petrified Forest
The members of the uniformly terrific cast really stand out as individuals, making both the full company numbers as well as the solos, all shine brightly. More so than in other recent productions I have seen of A Chorus Line, there is a genuine depth of feeling throughout about which dancers will eventually be chosen and which will not. Ivoryton Playhouse's production really mines the material and delivers a knockout show that glitters spectacularly and also tugs at your heartstrings.
One of the real accomplishments in this production is how strongly all the roles have been cast. As Zach, the director/choreographer who is choosing dancers for an upcoming Broadway show, Edward Stanley is excellent and manages to be authoritarian, as well as sympathetic when he needs to be. In another prominent role, that of the character of Cassie, who, it is gradually revealed, was once involved with Zach, Stephanie Genito is absolutely stellar and touching. It is easy to see that she has that little extra bit of star quality that makes it plausible that her Cassie once played dance parts in previous musicals directed by Zach.
As Sheila, the spicy and extremely funny Lili Thomas makes all her character's great lines land perfectly, for maximum effect and is heartbreaking in perhaps the most moving song in the show, "At the Ballet." Likewise, Natalie Madlon is a dynamite Diana Morales, and especially shines in her song "Nothing" and in leading the company in an especially lovely rendition of "What I Did for Love." In one of the first solo breakout numbers in the show, Dakota Hoar, as Mike, is pretty great singing "I Can Do That."
But just about everyone in this cast of A Chorus Line is special. Lina Lee is an amusing and endearing Connie, and Amanda Lupacchino and Carl Zurhorst score in the number "Sing." Sharing the stage with Lili Thomas' Sheila in "At the Ballet" are the equally exquisite Karla Starr Bryan as Bebe and Liv Kurtz as Maggie, who, collectively, make the number as moving as ever.
In the showy part of Paul, Joey Lucherini is a real heartbreaker, especially delivering his character's standout monologue in the second act (it should be noted here that this production adds an intermission to the show, which is usually performed in one act). At the performance I attended, understudy Andee Buccheri went on in the part of Val and nearly stole the show. Buccheri got all the character's laughs and was a joy singing "Dance Ten, Looks Three."
Most productions of A Chorus Line recreate Michael Bennett and Bob Avian's choreography completely, but, while retaining all the original steps for the finale number, "One," Todd L. Underwood has also added some neat dance ideas and moments throughout the show that are entirely his own. The physical production is extremely attractive, with Martin Scott Marchitto's set being entirely ideal and Kate Bunce providing costumes that are both appropriate for an audition, and dazzling for the showstopping conclusion. Music director Michael Morris leads the strong offstage band, and lighting designer Marcus Abbott's work is overall very effective, though there are moments when performers aren't spotlighted well, leaving some, literally, in the dark.
Ivoryton Playhouse's presentation of A Chorus Line makes each character onstage a distinct individual, which somehow makes the collective energy of the full-company production numbers all the more effective. Even if you have recently seen this musical, Ivoryton Playhouse's staging of the show is significant, with equal moments of goosebumps and genuine tears provided throughout.
A Chorus Line, through September 2, 2018, at Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., Ivoryton CT. For tickets, please visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org or call the box office at 860-767-7318.