From the Tallahassee Democrat written by Neil Coker:
In the fine arts, the phrase “triple threat” is not one that is thrown around lightly.
Triple threat affirms that a performer has perfected his or her abilities in acting, singing and dance. True triple threats are rare, yet as Sunday’s matinee showcased, the School of Theatre at Florida State’s production of “A Chorus Line” has a whole cast full of them.
The show’s program devotes a page to its historical context, which I found helpful in seeing the ensemble piece in a new light. At face value, the plot is simple and easy enough for anyone to understand. Out-of-work dancers are auditioning for an upcoming production in 1970s New York.
But the historical context behind it reminds us of the economic tailspin seen during that decade and how much performers struggled when the budgets for Broadway shows were tightened and the bar for success raised. And so, when we glimpse into each of these aspiring starlets lives, hopes, and dreams, it puts their struggle to the fore where “the chorus” is so usually relegated to the background. It shows us their human side.
Whatever glamorous, crafted face they put on during performances, at their audition the dancers are raw, unrestrained and desperately competitive. The monologues detailing the life and trials of the acerbic Sheila (Akilah Sailers) and sensitive Paul (Trevor Schmidt) were moving. Seeing their walls come down layer by layer was a treat. And who could forget Val (Taylor Sherry), who boldly, bluntly sings about what women must have (“Dance: Ten; Looks: Three”) in order to make it in show business?
The relationship between the director Zack (Kevin Nietzel) and the once-leading lady Cassie (Lily Kaufmann) had the most density to it. Their shared history propelled the second half of the show. Like their stage counterparts, every member of the cast deserves recognition, but space constraints only permit me to mention a few. All were marvelous.
While the acting and singing featured is more than amazing, it’s a dance musical first and foremost. As someone who is not as deft with his feet as he’d like to be, I’ve been unable to appreciate the long-heralded musical until now. Courtesy of choreographer Kate Watson Gelabert, the steps are tightly-curated and immaculately detailed, with the talent who send them across the stage giving nothing short of a professional-level execution. There isn’t a weak link to be found.
Directed by Jenna Tamisiea, this iteration of a show I once thought I’d never like to see again was a wholly transformational experience, giving nuance and depth to a piece that could have easily read as trite or played-out. Quite the contrary, I now see it as a tour-de-force that earned every award it’s ever won, thanks to a student production that out-did its own standards.
October 16 – 17, 2015 at 8:00 PM
October 18, 2015 at 2:00 PM
October 21 – 24, 2015 at 8:00 PM
October 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM
Adult Ticket: $22.00
Senior Ticket (Age 62+): $20.00
Student Ticket: $10.00