A CHORUS LINE RETURNS TO THE PALM CANYON THEATRE STAGE

Jack Lyons Theatre & Film Critic

Jack Lyons Theatre & Film Critic

One of Broadway’s longest running and most popular musicals “A Chorus Line” returns by popular demand to the stage of the Palm Canyon Theatre (PCT) for a two week run. It should come as no surprise to see the sixth longest-running musical in Broadway history (6,137 performances) reappear for its third iteration at PCT.

Photo credits: Nick Edwards

Photo credits: Nick Edwards

“A Chorus Line”, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 40 years, is a musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, libretto by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, which was originally conceived, choreographed, and directed by the late and great Michael Bennett.

It’s a perennial favorite of theatres world-wide. There are always many productions being performed every year. Dancers, especially hold “A Chorus Line” in the highest esteem. Because it’s a show about them, the “gypsies”, the chorus line hopefuls, who audition for every Broadway musical.

It’s a story about aspirations, dedication and commitment to the world of dance and to the people who perform in chorus lines everywhere. It’s also a profession with a short shelf-life that can break one’s heart and dash one’s hopes, dreams, and ambitions – and there are at least a dozen candidates auditioning for every spot in the line.

Photo credits: Nick Edwards

Photo credits: Nick Edwards

The Palm Canyon Theatre revival, wonderfully directed by Rodney Tethal, blends a group of fresh new faces alongside solid veterans, infusing the overall production with renewed vigor, high-octane energy, and pizazz. “Chorus Line” is one of those shows that is practically bullet-proof when it comes to delivering a terrific evening of entertainment. The story is loaded with many touching moments of aching poignancy and honesty; it’s easy to see how productions still resonate with audiences everywhere.

It’s not possible, due to space limitations, to list all twenty-three talented performers. However, there are always standouts in large cast shows, and PCT’s production is no exception.   Alisha Bates as Diana Morales, has one of the show-stopping numbers “What I Did for Love”, probably the most recognizable song from the show. Bates has a big voice for such a little lady. Allegra Angelo as Val, whose in-your-face rendition of “Tits and Ass” is a crowd pleaser; Denise Carey is the statuesque Shelia, a gal with an attitude who likes to please, especially her directors.

Photo credits: Nick Edwards

Photo credits: Nick Edwards

Se Layne as Cassie, the ex-lover of Zack (Rodney Tethal) the “play director” of the play within the play scores with her featured dance number “The Music and the Mirror”; another show-stopper number. Heidi Hapner as Maggie, a nimble dancer who knows the ropes; Ben Reece as Greg; Matt Sambrano as Mark, Shafik Wahhab as Al, and Kenneth Ugarte as Paul. Ugarte delivers an emotional and poignant monologue when he explains his back-story to Zack. And the entire company brings down the house with a rousing, glittering, golden-costumed closing number called “One”. The score by Hamlisch is considered to be among his best, and there isn’t a foot in the audience that’s not toe-tapping to the beat during the finale as the lights come down.

The creative team led by Director Tethal is headed by resident Scenic and Lighting Designer J.W. Layne, with Costumes Designed by Se Layne and executed by eight little elves working like mad in the costume shop. The Sound Design is by James Hayashi. Choreography and co-director of the production is Se Layne, with excellent Musical direction by Don Kelley.

“A Chorus Line” performs Thursday through Sunday and runs through February 8th. For tickets and reservation information, call 760-323-5123.

 

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