Tuesday 7 December 2021

A Chorus Line - Review

Curve Theatre, Leicester


Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Edward Kleban
Book by James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante
Directed by Nikolai Foster

The cast of A Chorus Line

It’s a bold statement from Leicester’s Curve that sees them stage A Chorus Line as their seasonal musical. Marvin Hamlisch and Ed Kleban’s meta-musical that scrapes away the schmaltz of 42nd Street, exposing the anxieties and aspirations of an auditioning Broadway chorus line is a gritty glimpse of humanity, with Kleban’s lyrics matching Sondheim's perceptive wisdom. This is a tough show with no gimmicks and which demands a strong and talented company. Here, directed by Nikolai Foster, the musical magic is a singular sensation.

While it is invidious to name cast members as the entire ensemble are all magnificent in the different glimpses of humanity they reveal, be it through the spoken word, song or dance, the key drivers of the narrative are outstanding. In a moment of song-free dialogue Ainsley Hall Ricketts as Paul holds our hearts in his hand as he speaks of the challenges of his parents accepting his sexuality. Lizzy Rose Esin-Kelly as Diana captures one of the show’s most tender lyrics in What I Did For Love, taking those carefully held hearts and breaking them with her honesty, while Carly Mercedes Dyer’s Cassie delivers a dance routine to The Music And The Mirror that is breathtaking in its energy and passion. Helming the on-stage company is Adam Cooper as Zach, the Broadway producer. Fierce yet enigmatic, Cooper plays the role with precise aplomb.

Foster’s team of creatives are as stunning as his cast. Ellen Kane’s choreography skilfully picks out the gelling of the company as the plot’s audition process evolves. Grace Smart’s set design is starkly stunning in its use of the Curve’s cavernous space. But take a bow lighting designer Howard Hudson whose rigs of spotlights rise and fall with a power that both enchants and enthralls. Musical director Tamara Saringer is equally magnificent. Hamlisch’s score is tough, but Saringer and her seven-piece band grasp the music’s challenges perfectly.

The people of Leicester have again been blessed with this festive treat – and if you don’t live nearby, then jump in a car or train and go. This may not be the traditional family show – but for Christmas quality, Nikolai Foster’s A Chorus Line is the One!

Runs until 31st December
Photo credit: Marc Brenner

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