REVIEW: A Chorus Line (Bridewell Theatre) ★★★★

A Chorus Line

Twirling, split-leaping and triple pirouetting into the Bridewell Theatre this summer, Geoids Musical Theatre takes on the iconic and universally renowned A Chorus Line. Despite being written more than 40 years ago, the lives and experiences of the characters, told through a series of monologues, remain relevant and relatable. These stories, combined with some fiercely choreographed group dance routines, make for a well-rounded show that displays each of the cast’s talents in equal measure.

A casting. The room full of dancers follow director/choreographer Zach as he teaches them a fast-paced sequence, each of them desperate to impress him and get the job. The first cut is made and the short-tempered and irritable Zach orders the remaining sixteen dancers into a line. In a bid to understand them, he invites each to divulge their personal history. Tales of childhood trauma and dysfunctional families collide with fond memories of dance class and embarrassing adolescent experiences. Lurking inconspicuously among the group is Cassie, an already established dancer who, having found difficulty securing jobs as a soloist, wants to re-join the chorus. Tensions rise as Zach scolds Cassie for outperforming her peers.

This production of A Chorus Line is very successful. The cast is both talented and charming, with the real strengths coming to light through the longer dance routines. Each performer works beautifully as part of an ensemble and Becky East’s slick choreography is delivered with impeccable timing and energy. The cast whirls about the space, utilising the full stage and demanding our focus throughout. On the whole, the American accents are performed well with just a handful of hiccups and the commitment to each character is truly admirable. During each scene, even the smallest of interactions between characters really brings their relationships to life.

Zach, played by Michael Stacey, is kept offstage for the majority of the piece. Largely invisible to the audience, his disembodied voice, combined with the nervous, furtive glances of the other characters, further cements the oppressive atmosphere of scrutiny and impatience experienced by the dancers. The pace of the show takes a little while to warm up yet when the story focuses on Kristine, played by Vaughan Watts, her high energy and wonderful comic timing in “Sing!” lights the fuse and the show takes off. A particular mention must be made for Eliza Jackson, whose Diana Morales is one of the most captivating of the performances. Her understated and considered delivery is matched with a strong singing voice and a flawless Puerto Rican accent. Equally successful is Kate Winney’s Val who positively shines among the cast. When she single-handedly delivers what is arguably the most enjoyable moment of the show – “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” – she is met with thunderous applause. Cassie’s much anticipated dance solo during “The Music and the Mirror” is brilliantly executed by Vanessa Forte whose command of the choreography and exquisite stage presence has the audience entranced.

A slightly condensed version of A Chorus Line, this production is upbeat, polished and peppered with moments of humour. The minimalist set and costumes allow us to focus on the performers who do a great job of keeping our attention throughout. An all-round enjoyable piece with some truly memorable highlights.

Reviewed by Alex Foott