Search

Theatre review: A Chorus Line at the London Palladium

PUBLISHED: 16:30 22 February 2013

A Chorus Line at the London Palladium. Picture: Manuel Harlan

A Chorus Line at the London Palladium. Picture: Manuel Harlan

Archant

A Chorus Line is a truly original show with plenty of heart – and almost an anti-musical

It’s strange enjoying the missteps and mistakes of dancers in a West End musical; in A Chorus Line, it’s all part of the fun.

There’s no plot, either, in the traditional sense. Instead, a group of dancers audition for a part in the chorus line of an unnamed Broadway musical.

True to the 1975 original, the set is almost non-existent, being only a white line that bisects the stage left to right – a guide for the dancers in rehearsal – and rotating mirrors that occasionally wheel into life.

The real interest lies in the storytelling: created by director-choreographer Michael Bennett in a series of workshops, the dialogue and songs are based on real-life interviews with dancers who were rolling with the punches on 1970s Broadway.

A Chorus Line is, in that sense, a rare example of a post-modern musical; instead of perfectly flawed individuals who live happily ever-after, our heroes are plain-looking, insecure, and full of doubt. You might even call it an ‘anti-musical’.

Bob Avian, who co-choreographed the original, returns as director, and successfully brings out the dancers’ endearing eccentricities, hopefulness and desperation. He’s supported by a highly talented company, who have been superbly cast. The stories feel slightly dated, however, and what once offered a searingly honest portrait of contemporary American life – no doubt the reason for its initial success – now strikes a nostalgic note.

Marvin’s Hamlisch’s score is, in the flesh, a little underwhelming, although the songs are delivered with guts and panache. Scarlett Strallen is outstanding as the washed-up Cassie, whose solo dance routine is nothing short of breathtaking.

This is a night defined by moments of great poignancy and technical brilliance, but without the razzmatazz you’d expect from a traditional musical. At two hours without an interval, A Chorus Line might test the patience of the thrill-seekers.

But those looking for a truly original show with plenty of heart, will get a (leg) kick out of seeing this on the big stage again.

Tickets: 0844 412 2957.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Islington Gazette. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Islington Gazette