Review: A Chorus Line

Posted by Matt Bourne on 03:46 with No comments
A Chorus Line
Palladium Theatre, London

The Legendary A Chorus Line, has returned to London's Theatreland for a revival of the hugely successful and longest running Broadway musical of the same name.  Based on true stories, this is the tale of an audition process for a new show, where Director Zach (John Partridge) whittles down the cast, which include Cassie (Scarlett Strallen) a former high flying star looking to go back to her roots,  Shelia (Leigh Zimmerman) a aging dancer looking for one last break, Mark (Harry Francis) A young dancer just breaking into the business, Diana Morales (Victoria Hamilton Barrett) the Puerto Rican girl who was ignored by her teachers, Al & Kristine DeLuca (Simon Hardwick & Francis Dee) a husband who looks after his wife and she can't sing.. among others.  Zach gets each of them to tell them "Something about themselves" and they each deliver their stories.  When Zach has heard from everybody, he has to make the final decision of choosing four male and four female dancers, to set some dreams off and crumble those of the others.

A Chorus Line first came to London in 1976, so it has been nearly 40 years since it was last seen.  Time has moved on in the Theatre with all manner of Gizmos and effects to make shows more lavish and appeal to a broader computer age audience.  So it comes as a refreshing change that A Chorus Line stays true to it's original foundation with just a panel of revolving mirrors as it's backdrop, the stage remains barren throughout so that the individual actors have a platform to shine & shine they do.

If your a fan of pure song & dance then this show will deliver in spades.  With some simply stunning choreography throughout there are some astonishing solo numbers.  None more so than Scarlett Strallen who is absolutely brilliant, with crisp movement, kicks and spins, you cannot take your eyes off her for one minute, even when she isn't the focal part of the story.  There simply are none better than the Strallen's when it comes to big broad dance numbers in the West End today.  However she isn't the show's highlight as hard as that may to believe, that honour goes to the sumptuous  Victoria Hamilton-Barrett as Diana, who explodes with an incredible vocal performance on "Nothing" & "What I Did For Love" which brought the crowd to life on both occasions.  It's a subtlety played Zach from John Partridge, who for the most part you are caressed with his baritone voice as he sits to watch his auditionees 'And Relaaaxxxx' but when he's on stage involved in the dance numbers, he also leaves nothing out and throws his whole soul into his performance.

Where A Chorus Line really scores is the ensemble being right on the money with each of their characters.  From James T. Lane's stand out dance number through the comedy moments from  several cast members, this really is the best Song and Dance show to see in the West End currently.  Where it does niggle though is the show is a real slow burner and takes a good 20 minutes to hit it's stride.  Also, there's no intermission.  Not that this is necessarily a problem, but when you have to sit insome uncomfortable seats in the Palladiumin a sold out show, it can be Butt bustingly hard to sit through, which is not a knock on the production as everythign is grat.  But the comfort level does at times take you out of the story as you and several others around shift in theri seats trying to find the perfect position.  Also, your knees will likely take a battering too.  Another minor grumble is that the show has several moments of bad language, which will prevent the younger audience from seeing the show and if we are to inspire a new generation of dancers and singers, the script could have been trimmed a little bit.  Coupled with the 2 hour performance this certainly won't be suitable for families.

However those minor issues aside you should certainly get yourself tickets during A Chorus Line's short run at the Palladium as original director and choreographer Michael Bennett puts on a razzle dazzle show for the ages here, with a stunning cast, great bombastic songs and a thrilling set of dance numbers.  It's a solid show which is well worth the trip out. "And.. 5, 6, 7, 8!"

Matt Bourne