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A Chorus Line Forum


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Enlighten me. 
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Post Enlighten me.
Maybe I'm just an ignorant teenager, but I've seen (and thoroughly enjoyed) my fair share of musical theatre. I saw the A Chorus Line Tour (Broadway Across Canada) the other day, and wasn't all that impressed. It was very clear that the talent among the performers was astounding. Everyone could act, sing, and obviously dance way better than many people I have seen perform.

But the show itself did not particularly entertain me. Perhaps it was the plot, or lack thereof. It reminded me of a human version of CATS - we learned small bits about each character, but nothing ever tied their stories together. The only difference is that these characters were human, and instead of competing to fly on a tire, they were competing to perform in a chorus.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed the show. All of the songs and monologues were very, very well-performed, but I don't see how all of them thrown into one sitting can qualify as a Tony winner for Best Musical. We only knew little bits about certain characters, and because of that I didn't really care who made it into the chorus. Again, maybe it's my naivety, but by the time the dancers were chosen, I didn't remember who was who.

It was an enjoyable evening, but I'm clearly missing something.


Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:04 pm
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Post Re: Enlighten me.
Luc wrote:
The only difference is that these characters were human, and instead of competing to fly on a tire, they were competing to perform in a chorus.


LOL

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Sat Nov 14, 2009 7:15 am
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*coff*

I saw Chorus Line for my first full time live a bit over a week back in Vancouver, the same N American tour. I really don't know where to start, except that it left me overwhelmed. As you admit the cast was beyond reproach and I'll grant you you don't find out that much about each character--but it's a show where really the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Its script, its score, etc, are all very good but it's only seeing it fully staged that I realize what a visceral experience it all is. Even touches I never noticed--like how Bennett organized the monologues/songs so we'd start with a story about a dancer athis youngest (five or so) and go all the way to adulthood chronologically.

The dancing was spot on and I admit to being a sucker for Bennett's 70s choreography but where I think he really showed his power, and what made me so thankful to see his original staging, was just in the actual directing and transitgions--we have basically one set with the dancers on stage nearly the whole time,yet the stage imagery is so fluid and instinctive and brilliant--it's choreographd within an ionch of its life but this time that's a good thing--the way that people fragment away from the line, sometimes in surreal bits (like forming brief images of dancers at a ballet class during At The Ballet) had such a weird and amazing impact on me--it's staged so emotionally and even abstractly you really appreciate Bennett's theatrical instincts and how moving they are.

Definetly the best night I've had at the theatre in years. On another forum someone posted a rave from their performance last night in my hometown of Edmonton--and a few people replied that the current cast is arguably better than the cast that did the revival on Broadway. Sadly the cast is largely moving on after Edmonton with a newly cast tour taking over in Jan--I hope they're as strong and I urge everyone who loves musical theatre, and has seen Chorus Line before or not, to go see it if it comes nearby. Just an awesome night.

I admit that while I've always liked A Chours Line I did used to wonder if it deserved the '76 Tonys or if it was a product of its hype at the time. Certainly I think up till now I woulda called Chicago the better show. And while not a show that I could see winning a Best Musical Tony, I adore Pacific Overtures and I think it may be my fave Sondheim score (not show, but score) or up there. Yet, after seeing such a great production of Chorus Line I frankly get it. It didn't win simply because of nostalgia for dancers, or the excitement it brought to Broadway (PO was no hit, and Chicago while a bigger hit than some seem to remember, I find it laughable when people say the original was a flop, was not beloved--it got very mixed to negative reviews and many people went mainly to see the stars). It won, I'm certain, cuz it's just an awesome, powerful night of theatre that's almost hard to explain--like I said the individual elements are perhaps not so striking, but the combination is just near perfection IMHO.

Sorry you disagree.

E


Last edited by EricMontreal22 on Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Nov 14, 2009 7:29 am
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Last edited by Luc on Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:13 am
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HAHA nice to see another Edmontonian :D You guys have been getting better and better touring shows I see (ten years ago everything came to Calgary YEARS before Edmonton it seemed)

Well I admit I've always been fascinated with Bennett as a director so it was thrilling to see what he had done--and I have a heavy dance background though I think ti's relatable to anyone. So you found it tired and old? I thought you said the performers were good?

Anyway I'm sorry--but maybe it is just a matter of taste. What are some live shows recently or not so recently you have loved?


Sat Nov 14, 2009 9:26 pm
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Post A CHORUS LINE....
Luc, forgive me, but I am a little confused. In your first post, you said:

Luc wrote:
It was very clear that the talent among the performers was astounding. Everyone could act, sing, and obviously dance way better than many people I have seen perform.... All of the songs and monologues were very, very well-performed...

And now you've said:

Luc wrote:
I thought everything about the performance I saw was dry and stale.

Which is it? Surely it can't be both?

I tend to agree with Eric here: A Chorus Line is certainly more than the sum of its parts.

Luc wrote:
(W)e learned small bits about each character, but nothing ever tied their stories together.... (B)ecause of that I didn't really care who made it into the chorus.... (B)y the time the dancers were chosen, I didn't remember who was who.

I don't agree that there is "nothing (that) ever tied their stories together". Their experience of life as performers and their love of their craft ties their stories together. The details may be different, but core of what defines their lives is the same - and that's part of what makes it heartbreaking when a character you love doesn't make it in the end and another one does. And if you can't remember who makes it in the end, surely that is part of the point? They're competing for roles in a chorus line, not to be principles or stars who are recognized as themselves.

Later days
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Sat Nov 14, 2009 9:39 pm
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Awww, so sorry you didn't enjoy the show. =(

EricMontreal's post reminded me so much of my own reaction when I first saw a touring company of the show in 1997. My sister and I were completely blown away. We laugh about it today but I remember both of us being completely silent on our way out of the theatre. We gave each other a 'knowing' look in the lobby though, as if to say, "I want to react here, but it isn't appropriate." :wink:

But when we got outside the theatre...our jaws dropped, we looked at each other, and said almost in unison, "OMG, that was f*cking INCREDIBLE!!!" :lol:

We bought another pair of tickets the next day and that time, I took my little *cough* cassette recorder.

One thing about the show that hit me hard not just the first time I saw it, but every time I've been to see it, is how magical and surreal the whole thing looks and feels. Nearly no sets to speak of and very simple costumes, yet to me, moments like the opening number and the montage are so incredibly spectacular, my palms begin to sweat. It's all of those simple parts that, when merged, create an unforgettable experience.

All that praise and yet there are things about it that I can recognize as weak. For example, while I find the original arrangements thrilling, there are sequences and songs in the show that I don't care for. I dislike Don's bits about that big-titted slut and am not a fan of some of the cartoonish underscoring. But as a whole, it ranks as one of my top 5 favorite musicals of all time.

Btw, did you watch the movie version first, by any chance?

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Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:09 pm
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GREAT post--glad to see I'm not alone ;)

I do agree with you about Don's stripper story (though based on Wayne Cilento's real life I think--) and Don is one of the lesser defined characters (the production I saw had him played by one of the best male dancers though which endeared him to me).

I do have to stand up for the underscore though. ACL uses a LOT of underscore (nearly the whole thing besides Paul's monologue) and at the time it was fairly groundbreaking to have so much--so they were trying things out and maybe didn't get it all right. It does add a lot to the tension of the piece (as does the lack of intermission) although I will grant you that some of it is kinda too obvious or cartoony -- like the "nervous" sounds when something's revving up, or the cartoony sting chords. They're also quite dated--still I kinda love them (thank god they haven't pulled a Company and tried to update the script so it's no longer set in the 70s).

Your description of how surreal and magical the show's staging is, is spot on. The Montage has to be one of the most awesome 15mins in a musical *period*. I didn't actually expect it to be so surreal--the movie certainly fails by trying to make everything "real" and taking place on a real stage when so much of the musical is in their minds--the way the Line breaks open and reforms during the montage is spectacular.


Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:51 am
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Post Re: A CHORUS LINE....
RainbowJude wrote:
Luc, forgive me, but I am a little confused. In your first post, you said:

Luc wrote:
It was very clear that the talent among the performers was astounding. Everyone could act, sing, and obviously dance way better than many people I have seen perform.... All of the songs and monologues were very, very well-performed...

And now you've said:

Luc wrote:
I thought everything about the performance I saw was dry and stale.

Which is it? Surely it can't be both?


Yes, I guess I did contradict myself ENTIRELY here. :lol:
The performances themselves were spectacular, but the show as a whole felt a little... stale, for a lack of better words. I don't want to say that the show is dated, because it really hasn't been dated all that much. But it didn't feel new. It felt very rehearsed.


Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:42 pm
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EricMontreal22 wrote:
I do have to stand up for the underscore though. ACL uses a LOT of underscore (nearly the whole thing besides Paul's monologue) and at the time it was fairly groundbreaking to have so much--so they were trying things out and maybe didn't get it all right. It does add a lot to the tension of the piece (as does the lack of intermission) although I will grant you that some of it is kinda too obvious or cartoony -- like the "nervous" sounds when something's revving up, or the cartoony sting chords. They're also quite dated--still I kinda love them (thank god they haven't pulled a Company and tried to update the script so it's no longer set in the 70s).


I love most of the underscoring. There are only bits and pieces that I don't care for--like the 'raunchy' stuff heard during Don's scene...too loud and too, like you said, obvious. Some of Connie's stuff grates on me as well. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the underscoring for Sheila, Diana, Val, Cassie, Paul, and Kristine.

I adore the show's original orchestration. And while they didn't change the decade the show is set in, they did remove much of its original 70's sound for the revival. As much as I wish they'd have left it alone, it doesn't really add or take much away from the show so it isn't a major loss. Still, it's such a treat to sit there and hear that ultra funky original arrangement live like I did when I attended a local civic light opera production that meticulously recreated the original Bennett staging. To date, that is the closest thing I've seen to the original production. Every last detail from hairstyles to type of fabric used for the costumes was taken from the original. Too bad they decided to insert a silly intermission. Grrr.

Luc! You didn't answer my questioooooon.

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Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:31 am
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Post Re: Enlighten me.
Luc wrote:
It reminded me of a human version of CATS - we learned small bits about each character, but nothing ever tied their stories together.


Except ACL (which I don't like much) is about something while Cats is not.

Everyone can relate to the idea of needing the attention and get recognised, which ties all these poeple together. And the chorus line is a well developed metaphor for getting a job or distinghuis oneself in one or other area.

The motivation to get to the Heaviside Layer is much less possible to identify with. And it is also uch less developed through Cats. I think it's a very superficial comparishion.

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Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:28 am
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Quique wrote:
EricMontreal22 wrote:
I do have to stand up for the underscore though. ACL uses a LOT of underscore (nearly the whole thing besides Paul's monologue) and at the time it was fairly groundbreaking to have so much--so they were trying things out and maybe didn't get it all right. It does add a lot to the tension of the piece (as does the lack of intermission) although I will grant you that some of it is kinda too obvious or cartoony -- like the "nervous" sounds when something's revving up, or the cartoony sting chords. They're also quite dated--still I kinda love them (thank god they haven't pulled a Company and tried to update the script so it's no longer set in the 70s).


I love most of the underscoring. There are only bits and pieces that I don't care for--like the 'raunchy' stuff heard during Don's scene...too loud and too, like you said, obvious. Some of Connie's stuff grates on me as well. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the underscoring for Sheila, Diana, Val, Cassie, Paul, and Kristine.

I adore the show's original orchestration. And while they didn't change the decade the show is set in, they did remove much of its original 70's sound for the revival. As much as I wish they'd have left it alone, it doesn't really add or take much away from the show so it isn't a major loss. Still, it's such a treat to sit there and hear that ultra funky original arrangement live like I did when I attended a local civic light opera production that meticulously recreated the original Bennett staging. To date, that is the closest thing I've seen to the original production. Every last detail from hairstyles to type of fabric used for the costumes was taken from the original. Too bad they decided to insert a silly intermission. Grrr.

Luc! You didn't answer my questioooooon.


Oh, sorry Quickie! No, I didn't see the movie. I would like to see it soon though. How does it compare to the stage version?


Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:08 pm
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