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'A Chorus Line': The audition you don't want to miss

If you are a musical theatre fanatic, you might already be familiar with the 1975 American musical ‘A Chorus Line’. When I got the opportunity to see this beautiful story in a production by the Stage Musicals Society on opening night, I jumped at the chance. I was sort of familiar with the story but never had a chance to see it on stage before, so it was mostly a surprise as far as individual character storylines go. The musical was on for three consecutive nights (7-9 December 2023) at the Riley Smith Theatre at LUU.

 

Seeing a show on opening night is always a special experience, and this was no exception. The actors seemed completely in their element and embodied the characters so vividly that it truly felt like crashing a real-life dance audition and observing real people battling overwhelming nerves and emotions whilst trying to land their dream job. An element that really added to this was the positioning of the director’s table from where he observed and instructed the dancers. He opened the show sitting in a row amongst the audience while talking to the dancers on stage. This start to the show was an immediate attention grabber and the opening numbers ‘One’ and ‘I Hope I Get It’ engaged the audience even more. We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of an audition and couldn’t help but wonder what the dancers’ backstories were, what brought them there, and what the outcome of their audition would be.

 

Over the course of the show, all was slowly revealed when Zach the director (Jack Foster) asked the dancers to tell him more about themselves so he could really get to know them and their passion. Through the musical numbers, the dancers revealed often uncomfortable truths about their childhoods, family lives, and career pasts, and one by one they dropped their façades to please Zach. Cassie (Maeve Gallagher) is a beautiful young woman who, after failed attempts at breaking into Hollywood stardom, is auditioning to rejoin the chorus line. She has a complicated romantic past with Zach that still seems to cause them heartache during the reunion and culminates in their duet near the end of the show. Sheila (Alice Gedye) is one of the more experienced dancers with a confident, sassy attitude, who is very reluctant to show a vulnerable side. Val (Abbie Freeston), Sheila’s rival from previous auditions, is a woman who got made fun of for her looks when she was younger and decided to solve her problems with plastic surgery, using humour as a coping mechanism to relay her story. Judy (Millie Falconer) is funny and a bit eccentric, Kristine (Alice Waller) is worried about her non-existent singing abilities, Connie (Sadie Smith) has always been cast in a young role because of her height, and Bebe (Romy Rendigs) is still full of hope as a newbie in show business. Paul (Erwan Fayolle), who seems very shy and awkward, didn’t leave anyone indifferent while telling his life story through an emotional number. From former ballerinas to late bloomers chasing a newly discovered dream, all of the dancers were unique and memorable personalities and the cast portrayed them powerfully.




Photo credits: Millie Stephens (Instagram: @milliessphotos)

 

Co-directed by Ella Fairley and Elena Lacy with co-musical directors Mimi Roberts and Lilian Sztankov, and produced by Kiera Ford, this production brought us a youthful, fresh take on the famous musical and dazzled with their nuanced emotional portrayals and dance numbers, co-choreographed by Annabel Martin and Lily Payton. Of course, the show wouldn’t have worked without the backup of the amazing Backstage Team, consisting of production manager Layal Muhtadi, stage manager Joe Rogers, lighting designer Ally Haughey, sound designer Jess Simons, set designer Charlotte Aldred, and others. Additionally, the orchestra was incredible and made the numbers shine while perfectly accompanying the cast. 

 

‘A Chorus Line’ transported the audience directly to ‘the concrete jungle where dreams are made of’, New York City, and gave us a taste of being a struggling performing artist looking for their big break to make their dreams worth it. The Stage Musicals Society did an amazing job at bringing this musical to life. You can find them on Instagram as @luusms to keep up with news and updates about their yet-to-be-announced semester two production!

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