Porchlight's A Chorus Line is one singular sensation | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Porchlight's A Chorus Line is one singular sensation

The cast brings the group of dancers to life.


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On a bare stage, a sea of spandex roils, shining with that 1970s luster. A director calls out counts and steps and the group moves in rough coordination—a dropped step here, a stumble there, pirouettes, jazz hands, pelvic thrusts. He refers to them individually by number, collectively as "the kids." It's an audition, and everyone is dancing for permission to dance, and their thoughts, like the steps, are mostly the same: "God, I hope I get it," "God, I really blew it," "I really need this job."

A Chorus Line, originally conceived, directed, and choreographed by Michael Bennett, with a book by James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch, and lyrics by Edward Kleban, is a salute to the brief and mostly anonymous lives of dancers who spend hours practicing, hustling, hoping, and ceaselessly laboring against the ravages of time, weight gain, injury, unemployment, and other forms of bad luck. Developed in workshops with real-life Broadway hoofers, the Tony-winning musical offers the opportunity to hear the voice of each member of a cast of dancers whose individual histories intersect in a mutual desire to win a spot for an instant in an unforgiving industry. The beauty of the ensemble emerges in potently sketched details—Sheila escaping an unhappy home at the ballet studio, Paul discovering his identity by imitating Cyd Charisse—every one chiseled into a distinct humanity by the friction of circumstance and love.

Porchlight's production, featuring a fantastic cast directed by Brenda Didier, with choreography by Christopher Chase Carter and music direction by Linda Madonia, brings each character to life in wonderfully high resolution.   v

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