A Chorus Line
Director/Choreographer: Amy Campbell
Musical Director: Simon Wade
Drama Theatre, Opera House
February 13 – March 11, 2022
Coming out of hibernation? Then celebrate by dining and wining at a table overlooking the harbour and follow up by attending Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s dazzling production of all-time favourite musical A Chorus Line at the Opera House. For lovers of music, dance and theatre performance, Amy Campbell’s exciting take on this 1975 much-loved story of hope, joy and loss is a thrilling experience.
The economical but dramatic set design (Simon Greer), dynamic lighting (Peter Rubie) and sound (Dylan Robinson) give this production a powerful edge, immediately engaging the audience in an epic world of passionate hope and desperate self-doubt. The mirror at the back wall and row of lights beaming downwards spells it out. At the moment the spotlight is on the 17 dancers hoping to make the final cut, dependent for their heart’s desire on director Zach (Adam Jon Florentino), often a disembodied voice handing down God-like commandments.
Zach asks the often-reluctant dancers to tell him something personal about themselves, catching them off-guard. As well as enabling the audience to identify with the individual dancers – as do their outfits (costume designer, Christine Mutton) – insight into what prompted them to choose years of punishing hard work to be on the line at auditions comes in the form of memorable lyrics and music. The songs – for instance, the very funny “I Can Do That” by Mike (Lachlan Dearing), a deeply wistful “At the Ballet” by Nadia Coote, Madeleine Mckenzie and Natalie Foti and a lively “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” by Rechelle Mansour – universalise the narrative.
Tension arises when the apparently unmovable Zach is pushed into self-revelation by dancer Cassie (Angelique Cassimatis). Once a featured dancer and lover of Zach, her presence at the audition is a personal challenge for him, and a humiliation for Cassie, one she is willing to endure for the sake of “a job”. Her intense and unusually lengthy solo, “The Music and the Mirror”, a centrepiece of the musical, is a dancer’s version of “I Will Survive” as she transforms into a stronger version of herself. We hope Zach will choose her as we hope he will choose Paul (a touching Ethan Ritchie), a Puerto Rican gay man whose struggle to find himself through dance attracts the director’s interest.
From the opening number, “I Hope I Get It”, we have been on tenterhooks and so, when the final cut is made, how convinced are we that “What I Did for Love” explains the capacity to accept rejection after unremitting effort? Such thoughts do not linger, as the whole cast, sequinned and silver, returns in a truly spectacular finale to the delight of the audience who express their appreciation of a sensational evening’s entertainment with a standing ovation.