Sunday December 17th 2017

“A Chorus Line”

Since the start of the Broadway in Aurora series at The Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora began, those “city folk” willing to hop on Rte 88, have been experiencing some very quality productions, and the newest one, “A Chorus Line” one of my all time favorites explodes with the same energy and force that the previous productions have brought. This is a wonderful theater to see a show from with comfortable seating and terrific sight lines, plus some easy parking, some quality restaurants nearby at affordable menu prices and just a good feeling. This production is directed by Mitzi Hamilton, who also handles the choreography, who was  in the original production and the inspiration for the character Val. While much of the staging is very close to the original and some of the touring productions we have seen over the years, I found a few small changes that were truly from the heart and soul of a dancer.

One must remember that “A Chorus Line” is not a typical Musical or Musical Comedy. It is a Musical Narrative, a story that comes from the hearts and souls of the dancers who want only to dance and perform and shows what they are willing to do in order to “get the job”. It is a bare bones musical where each member of the cast is not concerned about their costume or their hair or even their make-up and the director/choreographer, Zach ( deftly handled by Luis Perez) who spends much of his time speaking to the others from the audience itself wants them to bear their stories to him as well as their souls.

Each of the dancers has a story, some as narratives, others in song; about their youth, their dreams, their families, their sexual preferences and almost any topic one might consider, their secrets in life. The time is 1975 and they have left it alone. The year of when the action takes place is of little importance as the audition process for chorus lines has not changed very much over the years. The book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante has spanned the years well and the music by Marvin Hamlisch with lyrics by Edward Kleban gives us the feeling, emotion and tenderness of these hard working dreamers, the chorus line/ensemble players. Those of you who read my reviews regularly know how I feel about these important people- they are the final pieces to making a show a show, and this cast, though a bit “shorter” than most has some very special talents on the stage. I salute them all!

There is no set as we are on a bare stage but James Dardenne has added an extra full stage mirror that was very impressive as used by Ms Hamilton and Michael Rourke’s lighting is sheer perfection. The sound by Adam Rosenthal is flawless so no words were missed by anyone in the large Paramount Theatre. Shawn Stengel and his orchestra did honors to  the Hamlisch score that includes an opening number “I Hope I Get It” which represents a spot equal to an overture and an opening number in that it gets us into the story with great ease and understanding. Most anyone who has seen this show ( has anyone not seen it?) are familiar with and love songs lie “At The Ballet”, “Nothing”,”What I Did For Love”,”Dance:ten,Looks: Three ( also knows as the T and A song beautiful job by Nicole Hren), “The Music and The Mirror” ( a stirring rendition by the beautiful Jessica Lee Goldwyn as Cassie) and of course the two versions of “One” This is music that is pure story telling and speaking of that, there are some narratives that have no music that are also stand-outs.

Paul ( Jay Reynolds, Jr really gets into the heart and soul of a young boy searching for his identity),Bobby ( Carl Draper) talks about his dream to be a star no matter the cost Richie and Al and Kristine again all have childhood memories where they struggled with problems into puberty, family and identity. Remember, this was the 1970’s so sexual identity was not something one discussed. As always, Sheila( the glamourus Kristina Larson Hauk) is taller than the rest of the women and  Connie ( the delightful Pia Hamilton) is the little Asian girl. All in all, this is a solid and energetic cast, albeit a bit on the “smaller size” in stature, but they make up in talent for what they lack in height.

If you love “A Chorus Line”, you will enjoy this production! If you have never experienced “A Chorus Line”, shame on you and find some time to see this sparkling production before it closes as it is only here through February 5th with performances:

Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.,Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.,Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 and 5 p.m.

Tickets range from $34.90-$46.90 ( I know, these are weird numbers, but hey, they are more than 50% less than the downtown theaters of Chicago get. So either stop by the box office located at 23 E. Galena in Aurora, call  630-896-6666 or visit www.ParamountAurora.com

I would hope that next year, their second, they will extend the number of weeks for each of the series as I am sure more theater audiences will want to be able to experience what I have been seeing this year- quality theater in beautiful surrounding as affordable prices, making theater more “family friendly” 

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