The cast of ‘A Chorus Line’ put on a polished performance as they near their final curtain call during the show’s last week at the London Palladium.
“Step, kick, kick” echoes through the Palladium as the bustling cast strut on stage in front of sold out crowd for the final week of performances of ‘A Chorus Line’ in London.
The critically acclaimed show has been running for 6 months and is due to close on the 31st August 2013. ‘A Chorus Line’ made its debut in 1975 and was received as a breath of fresh air to a Broadway that was saturated with classic revivals and glitzy jazzy numbers. Contrary to all of those, ‘A Chorus Line’ showcases the stories behind the glam and is literally what is says on the tin.
If you’re looking for fabulous set changes, then this isn’t the production for you. There are no transformations into magical realms or escapist transportations around the world. The stage, quite simply, is a stage.
If you’re looking for great narrative, then this also isn’t the show for you. The storyline is pretty much an audition to an un-named musical, where all glimmers of interest are brought through character stories, which come complete with X Factor style sob stories and drama.
If you’re looking for sing-a-long big stage numbers, then this isn’t the musical for you either. It has some highly notable and clever-witted songs, but they’re not the kind that you will have stuck in your head for days to come.
Though, there are plenty of other reasons why this might actually be the musical for you. It’s a show like no other: the concept is unique, the script is layered and the songs are full of wit. Based on a true story, it is a highly relatable musical, which strips away the glamour of showbusiness, painting a stark reality of the actor’s living, and portrays aspirations and difficulties which are still current today.
The cast is also top notch, with sterling performances from Victoria Hamilton-Barritt who plays the young hopeful Diana, and the marvellous energy of James T Lane in ‘Gimme the Ball’ performing as Richie.
Particular highlights include Scarlett Strallen’s hugely emphatic solo performance of ‘The Music and the Mirror’, which though the production may be minimalist throughout, the brilliant use of lighting and mirrors provided a mesmerizing effect.
Though the star attraction, John Partridge was not present to play the role of the Director Zach in this showing, his replacement did well to add another dimension to the story through portraying his troubles from his former relationship with Cassie.
Vital to the show’s success are the pockets of light comedic relief, which in this instance was provided by Frances Dee and Simon Hardwick’s exceptional performance of ‘Sing!’, along with Rebecca Herszenhorn’s portrayal of the busty blond Val and the sharp quips from Leigh Zimmerman who plays the sassy older member of the cast, Sheila.
In 1975, this format, storyline and concept was fresh and unheard of, which is why Michael Bennett’s production managed to cause such a stir. However, what lets this musical down now is our modern day addiction to reality TV. Shows like the X Factor have made us immune to this behind-the-scenes vision of background showbiz. We’ve seen it countless times before, and it’s a real shame that it prevents us from fully appreciating the artistic brilliance behind this musical.
To make matters worse, as this artistic musical departs London, it is to be replaced by the very dagger that lends it to lose it’s magic, as the Palladium will make way for ‘X Factor: The Musical’ next year. Though, I am sure, as with most things, nothing beats the original, and ‘A Chorus Line’ is the daddy of all reality TV musicals.