Porchlight Music Theatre presents American music theatre staple A Chorus Line, directed by Brenda Didier. This classic musical tells the story of seventeen dancers auditioning to be in the chorus of an upcoming show.
A Chorus Line opens with “I Hope I Get It,” one of the show’s signature numbers, in which the chorus hopefuls express their intense desire to please director Zach and get the part. Then, performers are cut and the ones who remain are put through the world’s worst audition process. Instead of just dancing, singing, and reading lines, the performers are all asked to share their personal histories, the more intimate and vulnerable the better. While this would be a nightmarish way to handle actual auditions for chorus members, it makes for much more interesting theatre than a more traditional, sane process as we learn about characters’ childhood traumas and adult struggles. Oh, and there’s a whole number about puberty. I think I must have blocked that one out of my memories of listening to the soundtrack on loop as a teen.
The two best songs in the show, “Nothing” and “What I Did for Love” are both sung by Morales, played by Adrienne Storrs. Storrs bursts with energy throughout the performance, and her powerful singing voice and nuanced physicality bring the star character to charming and colorful life. Similarly compelling is Laura Savage as experienced dancer Cassie, who mansplaining director (and her ex) Zach thinks is too good to be in the chorus despite her repeated assertions that she wants to be in it. Savage’s performance of “Music in the Mirror” is overflowing with joy and passion, and it’s impossible not to root for her character to succeed. Aalon Daeja Smith, although she plays Maggie, an ensemble member in an ensemble cast, still manages to rock the house during all her solos with a killer set of pipes. And Chloe Nadon-Enriquez is charming as the ditzy, tone-deaf Kristine.
Though small, the orchestra brings a richness and lyricism to the score, filling the space with sound akin to that of a much larger ensemble. Costumes by Bob Kuhn are perfectly detailed to set the show in its time period of the 1970s, but they also catch the eye, especially Cassie’s red dress and the glittering gold costumes the cast changes into for curtain call. Rotating mirrors on the back wall add unexpected pizzazz to a set, designed by Kristen Martino, that otherwise calls for minimalism. The best part of the show might be its dancing, choreographed by Chris Carter. Every number is choreographed with precision and creativity, and the cast is full of excellent dancers who execute each routine with aplomb. It’s thrilling to watch.
A Chorus Line has its flaws, but it’s still a fun show to see. Porchlight Music Theatre’s production brings a fresh, modern energy to this beloved classic.
Note: Production manager Katie Beeks worked at Music Theatre Works while I was an intern there in 2015-6.
Location: The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street
Dates: April 10 – May 31, 2019
Times: Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Added performance Wednesday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m.; added weekday matinees Thursday, May 9 and May 16 at 1:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 26 at 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 28 and Wednesday, May 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $39 – $66. Available at the Porchlight Music Theatre website or by calling the Porchlight Music Theatre box office, 773.777.9884.
All photos by Michael Courier.