Second look A Chorus Line

JUST THE FLEX, MA’AM Lopez advertises for his gym.

JUST THE FLEX, MA’AM Lopez advertises for his gym. Photograph: Paul Kolnik

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

When the revival of Michael Bennett’s brilliant 1975 documusical first kicked up its heels in the fall of 2006, this faithful production of his work offered a frisson of recognition even to those who had never seen the original in its 15-year run. Here was a kind of resurrection—the cherished ghost now pumping new blood, the legend made flesh again. Twenty months later, that flesh has held up surprisingly well. A Chorus Line, it turns out, has legs.

True, there are signs of the usual fatigue that besets a long-running show. Most of the replacement actors are not as strong as their predecessors; the muscle-bound TV personality Mario Lopez is regrettably amateurish as Zach, an emotionally invasive director auditioning dancers for his new musical. But two pivotal scenes have significantly improved: Charlotte d’Amboise, as Cassie, now dances her big solo with palpable feeling and urgency, and newcomer Bryan Knowlton offers a poignantly sensitive monologue as Paul.

The piece’s inside look at the labor pains of musical theater—at the homogenization required of the chorus to permit the glorious individuality of the star—is compelling and complex. A Chorus Line is both a celebration and indictment of show business, and its glitzy final number (which follows two hours of psychological probing) leaves you at once exhilarated and troubled. The revival is scheduled to close August 17. If you haven’t yet seen it, try to catch this tribute to the spirit of Broadway before it passes again to the land of ghosts.

Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Conceived and originally directed by Michael Bennett. Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante. Music by Marvin Hamlisch. Lyrics by Edward Kleban. Dir. Bob Avian. With ensemble cast. 2hrs. No intermission.