Marvin Hamlisch’s 1975 musical about a group of dancers auditioning for an unnamed Broadway show is – like the late Hamlisch himself – one of the all-time greats. And to all intents and purposes and insofar as is possible, this revival is that 1975 production. Directed by original choreographer Bob Avian, this ‘Chorus Line’ shares everything bar a cast with its predecessor, from stark set design to striking lack of an interval to the antediluvian leotards sported by the cast’s female members.
The trouble is that in recent times, audition-centric reality TV shows like ‘The X Factor’ have so comprehensively co-opted ‘A Chorus Line’s emotional and narrative turf that what once seemed formally daring now teeters on the edge of cliché. The first half – in which each of the many auditionees shares a little of their life story with John Partridge’s director Zach – simply doesn’t feel structurally audacious any more, and lags when the spotlight is handed to one of the ensemble’s several weaker members.
But for every stodgy first half moment there’s a strong one, and the cast’s bigger names earn their place in the line: Leigh Zimmerman is very funny and very sexy as the waspish Sheila; Victoria Hamilton-Barritt injects grit and heart into feisty Diana; and former ‘EastEnders’ man Partridge is both ruggedly charismatic and astoundingly light on his feet as Zach. And following Scarlett Strallen’s powerful solo turn as fallen leading lady Cassie, the musical really finds its gear. The second half ensemble numbers are genuinely subversive, as the cast enters a mannequin-like lockstep that’s part gorgeous, part depressing as these sparky individuals achieve their ‘dream’ of becoming part of a faceless mass.
And the score is wonderful, an elegant mix of restrained orchestral gorgeousness and sizzling pre-disco funk, daft early numbers giving way to the climactic double whammy of hauntingly incomplete showtune ‘One’ and tender ballad ‘What I Did for Love’.
A classy, idiosyncratic show. But it’s a shame that something that was once such a breath of fresh air now has the musty whiff of museum piece to it. Andrzej Lukowski
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3 / 5
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A chorus line - was all it set out to be and more. Extremely talented leads. Brilliant performances all round. Incredibly moving and emotional. A must see if you love dance and drama.
We bought tickets for a Wednesday night as the show was closing this month and there were quite a few discounted tickets on offer. We went into the show not knowing anything about the story line but quite liked a few of the songs featured in 'Glee' (yes..the tv series). I thought the performance was good, not great but not as bad as some of the reviews I have read. I think it would have been better with an interval since there is a section in the middle that does drag on a little, and I found myself zoning out and glancing around at other theatre-goers. With that said, the songs that were performed were pretty spot on - especially when there was nothing to focus on except the single dancer/singer who was telling their part of the story. The end numbers were fantastic and definitely end the show on a high. The set and costumes are very basic..I can understand why those paying top priced tickets (£90+) were left utterly disappointed.
I come from Madrid, Spain. Whenever I come to London, every two years or so, I try to see a musical in the West End. I went to the London Palladium last Saturday for the 3.00 pm show and I think the 45 pounds I´d paid for quite a good seat were worth it. The music was great except for a couple of songs; some of the actors and most dancers did a great performance. However, as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language in Spain, I could notice the fake american accents were really bad, especially that of one of the main female characters. If I was an American, I would feel quite disappointed at finding such a mistake in a London West End musical! I saw The Lion King in NYC two years ago and ,although the stories are absolutely different from each other, I felt like in Paradise. The plot and the language of A Chorus Line have become a bit old-fashioned but, frankly, couldn´t they find actors who would imitate an american accent better than these?
I cannot believe some of the reviews below. What a great show this is! This was the first time I'd seen the show and so didn't know much about it. There's not much in the way of a set, so the actors had to shine with their singing and dancing. And they certainly did! With no gimmics to hide behind, they performed brilliantly, with the whole cast uniformally excellent. When the final song, One, is performed, you will just be beaming! A wonderful night out and I could not recommend this show more!
I agree with the other disappointed reviewers. This was so over the top awful, i couldn't stand it and left at 9. I'm just angry i didn't read the reviews ahead and save myself quite a bit of money. Save yourself! Go to something someone has bothered to put some energy and creativity into. This is such a tired production, it's embarrassing.
This was naf, old hat, badly acted (terrible fake American accents) with superficial characters and well past its sell by date. The dancing was not what it should be, and the theatre is too large for this show as the actors can't fill the stage. The final number was like a local amateur production. The world and theatre has moved on since this show first hit the stage and it shows. Hire the DVD of the film instead if you want to see a museum piece. By the way, I felt ripped off. Nearly £100 for a seat when tickets were being sold for £19 on the day and there was hardly anyone in the audience!
A depressing experience. We paid £95 each. The Palladium was selling tickets for £19.50 on the day and the theatre was STILL less than one third full. On a Saturday! I have no idea how this production made it past previews and is at the Palladium - anyone with some theatre knowledge could have advised that this production would flop. I saw this show in 1978 and it was awesome, moving, riveting and revolutionary. This production is so dated (who says 'homosexual' anymore? Who will get the references to a bygone era? Who will share the angst that belongs to another time?), with a cast that palls compared to what is required. The dancing is sloppy, the vocals under par. The audience was mute. It was very amateurish and lazy and the finale breathtakingly sloppy and tacky and completely ruined. This cast cannot fill a bare stage and do not connect with the characters. Great songs are ruined - Tits And Ass is performed and sung very badly. A beautiful memory of a very important show has been destroyed. My partner was horrified by how stale and dull it was, and younger audiences just wont get it. This production will not last, and Time Out has given a VERY generous review. I'm stunned it's in the West End. It needed a creative tour de force and updating with a revised book to take into account the passing of nearly 40 years, and a fresh approach. It was like watching an old Jeanette McDonald movie. Don't waste your money.
A new show has come to London and this one is definitely worth seeing, the songs are great and very catchy. The actor who plays the producer was excellent. A bonus is the comfy seats with more leg room than the average theatre which for being 6ft 2 makes all the difference!
I love this show - one of my all time favourites. Unfortunately this production just doesn't have the talent to pull it off. It lacks precision and left me feeling disappointed. Overall its a good production I just wish it was as awesome as it could be.