Photos – James Morgan
Going for any job is never easy: add to the usual stress of 'the job interview process' some lashings of 'how you individually present'; mix in some angst, knowing your own personal profile is under severe scrutiny; ponder the process of how flexible you can be in any given situation; consider what has brought you to this stage (pardon the pun) at this precise moment; worry if you are good, better, best when lined up with your peers, and you will have some idea (for those who aren't in 'the business') what it must feel like to audition for a part that you know everyone else wants as desperately as you do.
A Chorus Line involves the audience from the onset, introducing the characters en masse and as individuals. You get to know these hopefuls during the course of the show watching them strut their stuff and discovering what makes them shine or crumple.
Every one of the dancers are stripped bare-to-the-soul and must unveil and reveal what makes them tick (or kick!). Camaraderie is built within the group but as we all know, there are only eight spots and when there are seventeen dancers involved, human nature being what human nature is, everyone must struggle for their place in the spotlight.
A Chorus Line has won nine Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize – no mean feat for any musical. Having witnessed this performance live on stage, I can understand why. This is a human interest story (something I didn't pick up from watching the movie so many years ago). How did I not see that in the movie? Loud and clear in a live performance, though, and what other way can you really get involved with a show of this magnitude other than being an audience member?
The stage set-up actually includes the audience as part of the whole, with clever sound engineering projecting voices, commanding and demanding, from the back of the theatre. When Zach (Josh Horner) booms "tap now" from behind my head, I was sorely tempted to stand up and dance!
Stories unfold and audience members get caught up in the lives (sorrows and happiness) of the auditioning performers: how they each became dancers and what life-course spewed them out at this end of their careers. Music (Marvin Hamlisch) and lyrics (Edward Kleban) "dug right down to the bottom of my soul..." and knowing what the individual dancers/singers had to go through for a chance of a performing career ("what I did for love...") is still inspirational and very contemporary indeed. Positive spins and songs that are familiar yet still rewarding: "I can do that..."
There are memory medleys and elastic dancers (Kurt Douglas as Richie is awesome) who tap and slap and clap and wrap themselves around you. Cameo shots giving everyone a chance to shine as individuals (and shine they do) and let you, the audience, into their stage plight for 'one singular sensational' moment.
Something for everyone with gay confessions, personal problems, group dynamics, and the interview processes that will eventual weed out the less fortunate.
A Chorus Line is quite mesmerising, with top-quality performances by every individual singer/dancer/actor gracing the stage of the Lyric Theatre (too numerous to individually name, although they are all stellar performers in their own right).
Stage set is minimal but works to the max, positioning us in the dance studio and allowing us, yet again, to be part of the auditioning process. Clever lighting, strategic placement of drop-down mirrors (that old saying that "it's all done with mirrors" rings true here) and dancers in dance-training-this-is-what-I-wear gear makes the show even more convincing.
When Zach makes his choices, the audience who have come to know each dancer as an individual, feel the elation and the desperation of the winners and the crestfallen. The closing scene, with all dancers glowing in golden finery, is worth the freight alone! Wow.
TML Enterprises presents
A Chorus Line
Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC, South Bank, Brisbane
Dates: from 16 Nov 2012
Tickets: $64.90 – $124.90