Regional Theater Preview: A CHORUS LINE (Chance Theater in Anaheim)

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by Tony Frankel on July 5, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional

THE MUSICAL WITH LEGS

A Chorus Line remains as fresh as the day it appeared just over forty years ago, when the standard Broadway musical was already fading away, making room for the jukebox musicals and mostly hollow spectacles we are still forced to endure (Catstricide, anyone?). The miracle of A Chorus Line is that it is a very simple tale, but encompasses themes which resonate with universality. Revivals sprout up like the a Swan Lake corps de ballet on brand new toe shoes, but to miss an intimate production by one of Southern California’s most estimable companies would be ridiculous. And with Chance Theater’s Artistic Director Oanh Nguyen at the helm, I promise that everything will definitely be beautiful at this ballet, barre none. It officially opens July 9, 2016, but some shows are already selling out, so act — or rather, dance — fast.

Victoria Rafael, Dannielle Green, Robbie Lundegard, Calvin Brady, Xavier Castaneda, Tina Nguyen, Tatiana Alvarez, John Wells III, Christopher Mosley and Emily Abeles in A CHORUS LINE, Chance Theater. Tina Nguyen, Robbie Lundegard, Tatiana Alvarez in A CHORUS LINE, Chance Theater.

The simple plot: On a bare stage, a director not only puts auditioning dancers through the usual grueling repetitive combos, but interviews them as well. A side story involves the director and his ex, a leading lady who needs work so badly she is willing to return to the chorus. For those who haven’t seen it, believe it or not, that’s the entire story. Yet as the performers begin to open up about their lives and how they became dancers, themes of growing up, dysfunctional families, careers, and, yes, what we do for love, mirror all of our lives, not just those who stretch before a literal mirror. Like us, those auditioning cover the gamut of race, religion, and creed. Whether gay, old, Puerto Rican, privileged, Asian, short, flat-chested, or scared, everyone is unsure of the future.

Tatiana Alvarez, Camryn Zelinger, Ben Heustess, and Ashley Arlene Nelson in A CHORUS LINE, Chance Theater. Kristen Daniels, John Wells III, Tina Nguyen, Ben Heustess, Tatiana Alvarez, Camryn Zelinger, Ben Heustess, Ashley Arlene Nelson, Dannielle Green in A CHORUS LINE, Chance Theater.

James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante’s book (which is far too salty for the younger kids) holds up remarkably well, as do the songs of Marvin Hamlisch (music) and Edward Kleban (lyrics). This bittersweet musical is also a tribute to that great pre-AIDS era before theater became more entertainment conglomerate than art form.

Joseph Ott, Emily Abeles, Christopher Mosley, Victoria Rafael and Brandon Carter in A CHORUS LINE, Chance Theater. Emily Abeles, Victoria Rafael, Brandon Carter and Xavier Castaneda in A CHORUS LINE, Chance Theater.

And while there is certainly R-rated content, definitely bring your teenage brood, as this will be the show which hypnotizes them into a love for the arts, especially when the ensemble song “Hello Twelve” musicalizes the pain, joy, angst and embarrassment of adolescence better than any other number has to date. And no one can deny that the story from a character named Paul, who endured his uneasy adolescence by joining a transvestite burlesque in Harlem, is one of the most heartbreaking monologues in any musical.

Emily Abeles, Victora Rafael, Brandon Carter, Xavier Castaneda, Angeline Mirenda in A CHORUS LINE, Chance Theater. Brandon Carter, Victoria Rafael, Xavier Castaneda, and Angeline Mirenda in A CHORUS LINE, Chance Theater.

The cast for this production of A Chorus Line includes returning artists Ben Green, Ashley Arlene Nelson, Tasha Tormey, Victoria Rafael, Camryn Zelinger, Dannielle Green, Angeline Mirenda, Tina Nguyen, Joseph Ott, John Wells III, and Monika Pena. Making their Chance debuts with this production are Tatiana Alvarez, Emily Abeles, Ben Heustess, Christopher Mosley, Xavier Castaneda, Brandon Carter, Robbie Lundegard, Garrett Engle, Calvin Brady, Carolyn Lupin, Liz Williams-Borud, Damon Williams, and Dustin Nguyen.

Ben Heustess, Camryn Zelinger, Ashley Arlene Nelson and Dannielle Green in A CHORUS LINE, Chance Theater. Ben Green and Tatiana Alvarez in A CHORUS LINE, Chance Theater.

photos by Doug Catiller, True Image Studio

A Chorus Line
Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken theater arts Center
5522 E. La Palma Ave. in Anaheim, CA
ends on July 31, 2016 EXTENDED to August 7, 2016
for tickets, call 888.455.4212. or visit Chance

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