Wednesday, March 28, 2018
A Chorus Line, particularly done this well, never disappoints. It’s at once an enduring classic and an ever-changing mirror of our times and attitudes. Seeing these hopefuls dance so well and hearing them not only sing their hearts out but also tell their stories reminds us of everything wonderful that musical theater can be. That said, perhaps the most interesting thing about revisiting a show that debuted in the 1970s some 40 years later is the new perspective our historical moment affords on some of its major themes. For example, back in the ’70s and ’80s, “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three (Tits and Ass)” came off as a sassy comeback from a plucky woman, whereas today we can’t help but hear Val’s triumph through cosmetic surgery as a cautionary tale — no longer as anyone’s idea of an adequate answer to women’s objectification in showbiz. Melissa Cabey delivered the number with verve, and the laughter and applause were genuine, but the gags are now shadowed by too much knowledge of the #MeToo variety.
Likewise, the central relationship between high-handed director Zach (Noah Bridgestock) and his ex Cassie (Madison Tinder) feels like a different story in our post-Weinstein era. The thrill of that disembodied male voice wielding so much power over the bodies rendered puny by the giant vacancy of the rehearsal stage conjures a world in which men boss women around for kicks, rather than the deep devotion to excellence the script would have us believe drives Zach.
Yet all is not lost. In some ways, the show remains ahead of its time, and the two Latinx characters, Paul San Marco (Pierre Marais) and Diana Morales (Orianna Hilliard) shine as forerunners of a more diverse, open-minded theater world. Finally, what a pleasure to hear the strains of a live orchestra playing this splendid music for these wonderful dancers.