By Michael Bennett, Marvin Hamlisch, et al
Just when you think Transcendence Theatre Company couldn’t get any better, they take a big risk and up their game, deviating from their tried-and-true hugely successful revue format in order to present their first book musical, A Chorus Line.
The production represents fulfillment of a long-held dream of the group’s founders Amy Miller, Brad Surosky, and Stephan Stubbins, who seemed to always know, or perhaps hope, that one day their company would reach a point where it would be possible to mount their favorite musical of all time, and do it as only TTC can do it. That means pulling out all the stops with a tremendous cast, nimble orchestra, and a fresh take on staging and choreography, and the result is truly memorable, a fantastic performance full of delights.
If you’ve seen the venerable musical before, you’ll appreciate the thoughtful updating of certain scenes, as in “At the Ballet.” Sung by Sara Andreas as Sheila, Leslie Rochette as Bebe, and Erika Conaway as Maggie, the number gets an added twist with inventive staging that brings home the lyrics with a new power. “Dance: Ten, Looks: Three” gets a terrifically perky rendition by Alicia L. Albright as Val, with delectable and sassy movement. “Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love,” led by Jeremy Greenbaum as Mark and Sierra Lai Barnett as Connie, engages the whole company in a feast of fun and current choreography— so much to see and enjoy.
Director Amy Miller and choreographer/associate director Jim Cooney keep the signature choreography and stagings that we know so well, as in “One” (“Singular Sensation”), while managing some clever modernizing that never seems out of place— just brings the show we love into the 21st century. Miller’s directorial hand works wonders on well-known scenes, adding feeling touches to emphasize the heart of the piece, as with the excellent performance by Luis Figueroa as Paul.
Music director/assistant director Daniel Weidlein guides the show’s vocals and leads the orchestra with a skilled hand, coaching cast members for stunning showstoppers, as when Kristin Piro as Cassie delivers “The Music and the Mirror” (also featuring brilliant choreography that pays homage to Donna McKechnie’s original and yet showcases Piro’s own dance skills). Natalie Gallo as Morales regales us with two classics, “Nothing” and “What I Did for Love,” both shining with emotional depth and clear vocals.
The entire ensemble is superb, and that’s the TTC effect— bringing in Broadway and local triple-threat performing professionals, some of whom have taken breaks from their NYC or touring shows in order to be part of this landmark production. Each one brings their personality, style, acting chops and mad dance skills to the performance. When they all join in on “What I Did for Love,” you might see a real tear or two on stage— and maybe in the audience, too.
There were a few technical issues opening night that are sure to be fixed quickly, and the finale could be a little more crisp, but the overall effect by the end of the show is inspirational and uplifting.
If you’ve never seen A Chorus Line before, perhaps because you thought it might be dated or creaky, this is the one to see, that will dispel that notion completely— see it now, before its evanescence vanishes like the brilliant spark of a shooting star.
A Chorus Line
Original: Conceived/Choreographed by Michael Bennett, Book by James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante, Music by Marvin Hamlisch, Lyrics by Edward Kleban
Presented by Transcendence Theatre Company through June 30, 2019
Fri/Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2:00pm
Tickets: $49-$84 general, $89-$154 VIP Premium; Group discounts