I once interviewed Nicholas Dante, the co-author of the book of “A Chorus Line,” who told me that the script of the show got it’s start at an all all-night taped group discussion held among a bunch of professional dancers who told the individual stories of their lives and careers. According to Dante, that first meeting took place at The Muny here in St. Louis.
“A Chorus Line” is the longest-running Broadway musical originally produced in the United States, and the 4th longest-running Broadway show of all-time. And it all began in Forest Park.
The show takes place in 1974 and is a one act production. It covers the audition of a group of dancers trying out on an empty stage for a soon-to-be-produced Broadway musical. After the initial workups, 17 hopefuls remain from which the show’s director, Zach, played by David Elder, needs to find 8 finalists who will receive contracts to be in the show.
The performance space at Stages is really too small for the show, so Stages has cut two roles, Don and Connie, from the show. Connie is usually fairly prominent in the production because she is a 4’10″ dancer of Oriental background who bemoans what her stature has done to her career. Even with those two cuts, however, the stage is still barely wide enough, and the lack of height takes away the usual feel that the hopefuls are auditioning on a somewhat cavernous empty stage in a major theater on Broadway.
Standouts in this company are Jessica Lee Goldwyn as Cassie, who played the role of Val in the 2006 Broadway revival and also was the understudy for Cassie in that company, and William Carlos Angulo as Paul. Angulo handles the delicate dramatics of his character’s story wonderfully.
Stage’s has mounted a nice production of “A Chorus Line, ” but it’s encumbered with inconsistent vocals and performances. For instance, the roles of Mike, Richie and Diana are usually near show-stoppers, but not in this company.
That said, the story of ambition, passion and purpose in life that is detailed in “A Chorus Line” is universal to all of us. The show’s color, costumes and lighting don’t ever let us forget that there really is no business like show business.
“A Chorus Line” runs at Stages through July 3rd.