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Enlighten me. 
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Post Re: Enlighten me.
Dvarg wrote:
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.


I suspect one reason you don't like ACL much, Dvarg, knowing you is you know it from the score right? And while I think the score gets picked on a bit (it's better than many give it credit for) it really is hard to get a feel for the show's strengths from jsut listening to it.

But I agree with you. I find Cats a fun show, I'm not a hater but I;'ve known TONS of audience members who don't even get the concept that the cats are all trying to get to of to the heavyside layer or whatever (in fact if they are they're doing it the wrong way since most of the cats seem to basically sing about why they're so content to be the kind of cat they are)


Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:12 pm
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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.
[/quote]

Where was the intermission? After the montage?

Tunick and crew claimed the updated orchestrations were done partly to play up to the strengths and requirementsof the average modern pit band (ie removing the few strings he originallhad and using a synth to fill those in) though I think some of it was to make it less 70s--I do miss that funk wah wah guitar. But I don't think it changes anything too drastically (the main difference I always notice is theopening of What I Did For Love, and I admit I'm starting to actually maybe sorta prefer the new orchestrations which start a bit more subtly)

I'm just glad I saw the tour and not the last months of the Broadway revival when the staging was drastically changed to serve Mario Lopez. Oy. It is odd some of the small changes made to the designs--Greg no longer has a bright yellow shirt but a less obvious black one with rings on the sleeve (this change was made during the original run), Bobby has no ascot etc


Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:18 pm
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Luc wrote:
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?


The film version is a travesty. And I'm very glad it did not pollute your corneas. I had a fixed expression of horror throughout the film. That's how bad it was.

I asked cause--incredibly--I've known a few people who saw the film first, then saw the stage show and were disappointed because they went in expecting something closer to the film. Ick.

It would be very interesting to see what you'd say about the film, considering the vastly superior stage version unimpressed you. XD

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Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:08 pm
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EricMontreal22 wrote:
Tunick and crew claimed the updated orchestrations were done partly to play up to the strengths and requirementsof the average modern pit band (ie removing the few strings he originallhad and using a synth to fill those in) though I think some of it was to make it less 70s--I do miss that funk wah wah guitar. But I don't think it changes anything too drastically (the main difference I always notice is theopening of What I Did For Love, and I admit I'm starting to actually maybe sorta prefer the new orchestrations which start a bit more subtly)


Yep, the intermission was inserted right after the montage. I think they inserted it because most of their patrons were elderly, lol.

The new "What I Did For Love" orchestration grew on me, and now I don't mind it much. I was very surprised at first that they'd even mess with it as the original was bold and soaring--appropriate given the moment and statement.

I agree, the changes are negligible. I'd usually rant and rave to no end about such changes. But here, they didn't really reduce much, just adapted it lightly. Some instruments are now played on keyboard (harp, guitar). And I think they've cut a couple of woodwinds and brass but I'm not 100% sure--I was going by ear and it could've just been the acoustics. The most noticeable of the changes is the absence of the electric guitar which doesn't reproduce well on a keyboard.

For those of you interested in hearing the difference, I've uploaded a couple of audio clips: the first is from an incredible 1999 local Civic Light Opera production that used the original arrangements. The second is from a 1997 national tour (and the second time I saw the show). The audience in that one is really responsive, which is always great.

I uploaded the '97 national tour one cause it features an arrangement very close to what's heard on the current tour. And it's good for comparison.

Both were edited to fit the 10 min. time limit on YouTube. And any voice/laugh/grunt heard on there is not me. I'm always very quiet, especially if I'm um...recording. :mrgreen:

CLO, 1999: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLx2mKmtKow (fast forward to 03:22 to hear the crazy ass funk guitar, hehe)

National Tour, 1997: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UipUIoNIb2w

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Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:57 pm
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I'll give them a listen but OMG! You're LesMisere on youtube :D I'm a subscriber to your channel--love it


Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:22 pm
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Yes, that's me. =)

I'm glad you've enjoyed the vids! They were in a closet collecting dust for God-knows how long. Showing them to a bunch of fresh eyes was only logical, hehe. :mrgreen:

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Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:13 pm
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Just for completeness sake here's the rambly "review" I did for another forum (the Sondheim forum, hence all the Sondheim mentions):

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I got to see the Chorus Line tour 2 weeks ago in Vancouver, and I have to say that while I'd never have ranked the show in my top 5 musicals before seeing this production, walking back from the theatre I was half convinced that their slogan "*the* greatest musical" was probably exactly right.

As a Sondheim fan too it was exciting to finally get a sense of where and how the show WAS in many ways an extension of what Sondheim and Prince (and Bennett) were doing with their first shows--something I hadn't really realized before.

OK I've calmed down a bit since then, but getting to see the recreation of Michael Bennett's original production, done by one of the best dancing casts I've ever seen (a few posters at BWW commented they thought the current tour cast was stronger than the Broadway revival cast) really made me realize that with A Chorus Line, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. While I think the score gets a bum rap (it's much better and even subtler than people give it credit for) I will aknowledge that on its own you really don't get much of the power of the piece. And the actual book is fairly slight--you find out about each dancer, some in quite a bit of detail, some in hardly none (I was surprised at how little Richie, who has a big solo in the montage, is defined). But even there there was a sublety I never realized before--even though it's quite obvious. Bennett didn't structure each character's revelations haphazardly, instead you start off with memories of the dancers at their youngest and work up through chronological order.

What was most striking about the piece to me, aside from the spot on dancing, is how surreal much of Bennett's staging is. We spend at least half the show inside these characters' heads, and because of the amazingly clear lighting and the staging we're always clear exactly what's going on. I remember seeing one amateur Chorus Line where the cast literally stood on the line, STILL, everytime they weren't singing. Here, Bennett has the "line" constantly dividing up, fading away, and changing shape, always to magically float back into the line when a memory or thought is over. The 18 minute "montage" is the heart of the piece and it's quite simply one of the most thrilling 15 or 20 minutes I've spent in the theatre--the seamless integration of dialogue, music, movement, dance, real and surreal action--always crystal clear--is astounding.

The opening ten minutes are likewise famous (and performed excellently, in a slight edit, on the 1976 Tony Awards) but the brilliance of how in that opening number Bennett and his team make you instantly aware of the thrust of the plot, of what's "on the line" for these characters, and already a good sense of the basic characteristics and personality traits of the main characters--all through little moments and amazing choreography, is a staggering accomplishment. Of course the moment works probably best on sheer visceral thrills--even the famous moment a minute or so in when the music mounts and Zach shouts to do the combination away from the mirror and the whole cast turns around to face the audience. (Bennett also made the opening combination so difficult that it wouldn't be hard for the dancers to look like they were struggling--only the final repeat of the jazz combination by a small group of men is meant to look nearly "right") But really the show is *filled* with so many little perfect moments.

There are other bits that stick in the mind--like how Zach's goading and criticizing of Cassie's dancing starts off innocently with her part of the line rehearsing One but slowly she becomes isolated from them, and the group almost becomes a threatening, neverending machine behind her as she gets worn down. Or small touches I should have expected--the back wall can suddenly turn into a wall of mirrors at a moments notice and yet when it does this it always somehow causes to instantly heighten the emotion on stage. I've read many times that Bennett's final irony--of giving us the ultimate finale with "One" that leaves the audience standing in the aisles, but has the flipside of being somehow depressing now that we see that each individual dancer has become an unrecognizable chorus member--is lost in the glamour, but I definitely felt the ambiguity. At the end of the two hour show (which had no intermission, thankfully) the feeling I had was so visceral, I really was dumbstruck. And then I looked back on the show and tried to figure out why--everything was good, very good or great even but, like I said, it's the combination of everything in this amazing production that really makes the show powerful. (Of course some would argue this is true of all theatre, but I think it depends).

I also never really realized before how indebted Chorus Line and Bennett's staging were to his work on Company and Follies with Hal Prince and Sondheim. I know Prince resented ACL's success at first partly because it seems like Bennett did find the magic key of taking a concept musical filled with brave, bold stylistic traits and experiments but making it a truly crowd pleasing hit at the same time. I think this has made some fans feel the show is too sentimental, or plays it too safe. It's true from a modern perspective things like the fact that at least three of the dancers are gay no longer pack much of a punch at all (although I was impressed with how relatively matte rof factedly these revelations were handled, something rare for the time--and even now there aren't too many major musicals with that many lead gay roles). But it's essential that the show keep to its time of 1975 (I think maybe even more essential than Company likewise remaining set in 1970)--this thread has some interesting arguments about updating the show, but I'm glad they kept with the era. Of course Dance Ten Looks Three is no longer half as shocking now than it was in 1975, but in some ways it's an even more relevant number now.

You can also see many places where Bennett took ideas from his Sondheim shows and adapted them here. Like in Company, sometimes dance is used in a semi abstract way to express an emotion (and the choreography for Tick Tock and Music and the Mirror isn't even all that removed from each other). Other times the dancers work as the ghost/memory figures from Follies (there's a sublime part in At the Ballet where suddenly you see some of the dancers in the back forming into a ballet class barre as the lights raise and then dim with the song). The show's structure--getting to know a variety of characters through fairly quick scenes with no plot is directly influenced by Company, as well. Likewise the show has an incredible amount of underscore, which effectively helps to both make the segue into songs nearly seamless, and to heighten the rising tension of the piece--something that Bennett first worked heavily on with Follies. The orchestra actually plays for nearly the whole piece except for the main bit of Paul's famous monologue.

Out of the cast, Michael Gruber was a great Zack, and Robyn Hurder a near ideal Cassie. The other standouts were the Emily Fletcher's Sheila (who had a brilliant delivery--icy cool but with vulnerability), Brandon Tyler's Larry (who, since he plays Zach's dance captain has to be the best male dancer, and was) and Alex Ringler's Greg, but I really couldn't find fault with anyone in this demanding show (I also didn't realize that, except for 2 short moments, the cast is on stage the entire 130 minutes). I may be biased though as by chance I got to talk a bit with the guys who played Larry and Greg after the show--who were exceptionally nice and seemed pretty excited by my enthusiasm. We had the understudy, Julie Kotarides for Diana Montez, a fairly big role, but actually she was also in my top three females.

I know there is some controversy about the small changes made. The costumes have been slightly changed (Greg no longer wears a garish bright yellow shirt over his black dance clothes, but a black one with white rings, Bobby no longer wears an ascot apparently because the producers thought, probably rightly, that now in a time when no one wears ascots it would too quickly telegraph him as gay), and the orchestrations were cleaned up and slightly changed by Tunick to suit a modern orchestra. Still, I was fine with all that and the orchestra sounded better and richer than most tour orchestras I've experience (it was made up of 5 members for the tour and the other 13 members were local Vancouver musicians--which is how it's commonly done with tours I guess).

I get why there's some cynicism about the show among some theatre fans-- I think one big reason is that it became such a phenomenon, and then kinda ran an eternity. Another reason is if you just listen to the score and read the book, I get that it could be seen as a slight show. Even the characters with the most to say (or sing) are really only defined in the broadest of strokes--but again it's the cumulative power of the whole show--the whole being greater than the sum of its parts--that, for me, created such a powerfully emotional reaction to the end. I read that Bennett said that even more than leaving the theatre thinking about the show and the characters, he wanted people to leave the theatre and think about their OWN lives and talk about that with the people they saw it with. Honestly, that's what happened to me--although certain images and senses from the show remained strong.

The tour is currently taking a break but restarting again, with a slightly different cast, in Jan. I'm always a bit apprehensive about tours, they can be quite hit or miss in terms of cast and even the production as a whole, butI really urge anyone who hasn't seen A Chorus Line ever, or even in a long time, to consider going if this tour comes near them. Just an amazing night.


Thu Nov 19, 2009 1:29 am
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I loved your rambly review. :mrgreen:

I agree with just about everything you wrote and can certainly relate to a lot of what you felt at that first performance. I love your attention to detail.

Very interesting to know that Follies and Company were directed similarly. I had forgotten that Bennett had worked on some Sondheim shows.

I will have to agree with those that say the score to A Chorus Line has some weak spots and is generally not one that is as enjoyable as other scores on its own. But I also don't feel it deserves some of the awful comments found in the other thread, grrr.

Like you said, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In the end, it's a very well executed and highly efficient, cohesive piece. And its message can easily be applied to any person in any situation--not just dancers (or cats XD). God I love this show. Too bad it isn't coming anywhere near L.A. soon. I last saw it shortly after the tour kicked off in Denver. I ended up seeing it 4 times in a couple weeks.

The 1997 national tour also went through a hiatus and was recast like the current one will. Unfortunately, they ended up not only recasting, but the tour went non-equity, the brass was reduced to keyboards (which sounded absolutely AWFUL), and the cast was amateurish and mediocre. I drove all the way to Escondido, CA (a nearly 3 hour drive) to see it, expecting to see what I had seen in 1997 and got that travesty instead. The same thing happened to an excellent 1997 West Side Story tour--went non-equity and basically turned to sh*t. LOL

I hope they don't do that to this tour.

Anyway, that was a great review and a real joy to read. Thanks!

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Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:44 pm
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Thanks so much for reading it and your comments :D

Yeah I believe the new tour will still be equity but I admit it can be a worry.

I saw that WSS tour too--looking at my program definetly during the Equity part--I thought it was great but I admit part of my excitement was seeing a revival that was virtually a recreation of the original production, sets and all, a bit like the current ACL.


Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:27 pm
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So you have a thing for recreations of iconic, original stagings too, eh? :D I was absolutely thrilled to see that production. And it was a last minute, on a whim type of decision. You'd never know based on the ads though, which featured a sexed-up Maria in a skin-tight, black dress being groped by a tank-top-wearing Tony. I thought they had modernized it, thanks to those awful ads.

My tickets for that cost only $20 (student rush) and we sat front row, orchestra. It was such a treat. But, yeah, I drove all the way to Cerritos, CA to see it again, but it had gone to sh*t by then. :lol:

Nothing thrills me more than seeing a complete recreation of original versions of shows like Evita, Dreamgirls, Fiddler On the Roof, and a few others. It's such a privilege, especially when you think you will never get a chance to see the original due to its age.

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Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:40 pm
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"So you have a thing for recreations of iconic, original stagings too, eh?"

Ha oh yeah it's a fetish of mine. LOL seriously--so many people complain that when revivals do that they become museum pieces but I think if done well that's not true and often there are things in the original staging that revivals forget about or lose--suddenly some aspects are reappreciated when we see it. Certainly for the great shows of Robbins, Bennett, etc I'd ragther see an recreation in many ways--the sets and choreograpjhy etc are often created for these shows at the same time as the writing so in some ways it's integral. Fosse too--one reason the recent Charity was a flop IMHO is cuz the show just doesn't work without his staging.

When I'm a multibillionaire I'm gonna fund a full on recreation of the Hal Prince/Bennett Follies. Just you watch me :P

HAHA I remember how misleading those WSS ads were too! Yeah I wasn't really expecting anything particularly good or authentic. But yeah this was a big selling point for me to see Chorus Line too. (I was lukcy enough to see the recent-ish Evita tour, which for me was only so so cast but it was still thrilling to see the Prince staging).

I've only been lucky enough to see in tours the first run productions of a few musicals--the big mega shows (Les Miz, Phantom and Sunset, the Kiss of the Spider Woman tour) and a few others.


Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:46 pm
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I really did make it sound like some fetish, did I? :lol::oops:

I support different artistic views and there certainly is room for interpretation but sometimes a show is just so well conceived, changes do little to nothing to improve it. Shows like Jesus Christ Superstar, which have yet to have a definitive version, are better suited for wild, alternate stagings. But I can't imagine Evita working better than it did under Hal Prince's direction. The recent London revival only proved this, imo. I saw the 20th Anniversary tour too and there's nothing like Hal's abstract staging.

Think we'll ever get to see the original Prince staging of Sweeney Todd? That would be incredible. But I doubt it'll ever happen. :x

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Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:08 pm
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