September 19, 2008

A Kickin’ Reality Show Long Before ‘Survivor’


Theater review - 'A CHORUS LINE'

More than 30 years after its first show, "A Chorus Line" has lost a step or two, but remains relevant.

The landmark musical - directed by its original Tony Award winning co-choreographer, Brockton native Bob Avian - runs through Oct. 5 at the Boston Opera House.

Credit the musical's enduring appeal to its universal themes of desire, perseverance and hope as it tells the story of dancers trying out for a spot in the chorus line of a Broadway musical.

When "A Chorus Line" first hit Broadway in 1975, it was an edgy and groundbreaking production tackling issues of abuse, homosexuality and dysfunctional childhoods. You'll find edgier fare on modern shows like "Gossip Girl."

With a bare stage and dancers costumed in practice clothes, "A Chorus Line" brings the audience into the audition. It feels like you're watching a Broadway reality TV show as each of the 17 dancers gets their turn in the spotlight to reveal their dreams and neuroses until they're eliminated.

Equal parts drama and comedy, the lure remains the big musical numbers. Natalie Elise Hall (Val) delivers a perky "Dance: 10; Looks: Three." And the night's standout was the spunky Gabrielle Ruiz (Diana) who belted out "Nothing" and "What I Did For Love."

In what was supposed to be a pivotal emotional seduction, "The Music and the Mirror," Nikki Snelson came up flat. Playing the washed-up Cassie, the song and dance was devoid of the hunger and urgency you'd expect from a dancer looking for a second chance.

Despite a couple shortcomings, "A Chorus Line" still has staying power.

Reach Dana Barbuto at [email protected]

Originally published by By DANA BARBUTO, The Patriot Ledger.

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