Doing it for Love
The structure of "A Chorus Line" is an audition by twenty-one dancers for eight spots in an upcoming show. Ostensibly to cast some speaking roles, its director, Zach, after running the hopefuls through several routines, asks each dancer to step out of the line and talk about themselves and the life they have chosen.
Born of a series of taped "bull sessions" with professional dancers then working on Broadway, the dancers' stories in the play reflect very different backgrounds and paths. Some are from the Bronx; another from Arlington, Vermont. Some had the support of their families. Some were rejected by their parents and forced to make their own way. All just need a job. A sanitized lullaby to Broadway, with lots of ballyhoo and happy endings, it ain't. Jim Raposa, an experienced actor and dancer known to many in this area as a drama teacher at Burr & Burton Academy, acquitted himself well as Zach. Portraying the director as martinet, he slowly but surely cajoled each aspirant to bare their souls. As Cassie, the once-featured performer now attempting to return to the chorus line, Sara Andreas gave it right back to Zach, Cassie's former mentor and lover, so that he would give her a fair shot.
Other standout performances included Claudia Yanez's achingly beautiful take on one of the shows' signature songs, "What I Did For Love." There, as Jill, joined by the Company, Yanez described the "sweetness and the sorrow" of a dancer's life. Genna-Paige Kanago offered a sassy rendition of "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three," her character's blunt anthem to the advantages of a shapely bosom and posterior.
Director Malcolm Ewen has commented that "A Chorus Line" is a show about people who dance for a living. True, but there also are some ferocious dance numbers. In "I Can Do That," John Scacchetti conveyed pure joy with some pretty nifty tap dancing. In "And...," Malik Akil Kimani Victorian, joined by Hannah Flam, Genna-Paige Kanago and the Company, energized all in attendance with some very athletic moves. The well-known finale, "One," with each chorus member dressed to the nines in gold outfits and top hats, kicking their heels after taking individual bows, brought the house down.
Credit Weston choreographer Michael Raine with fitting all of those dance routines into Weston's relatively intimate performing space, and to ensuring that the cast always danced in character. Costume Designer Karen Ann Ledger's togs for the motley crew in the audition line made it easier to distinguish them. Some glitches with the lighting and sound levels were apparent at the preview performance, but undoubtedly will be corrected as the run continues.
Leafing through the short biographies in the program, one can read that the performers, much like the characters portrayed in "A Chorus Line," come from all walks of life. Some of the more seasoned players have appeared in the play in other venues, sometimes in different roles. Prior to the show, I witnessed some well-wishers approaching cast member Zachariah Gordon, a recent graduate of Burr & Burton Academy now pursuing his dream. "A Chorus Line" retains its power because its central message about performing artists still rings true: what they do, they do for love.
Performances of "A Chorus Line" continue at the air-conditioned Weston Playhouse through Aug. 23. For tickets, call (802)-824-5288 or visit online at www.westonplayhouse.org.
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