and nationaltouring company experience, the question “When are they going to do a real show?” has lingered over the wineryruins in Jack London State Park for some time.
The answer is ‘right now’ asTranscendence presents A Chorus Line,their first full-length book musical. ThePulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning classic about dancers auditioning foreight spots in a Broadway chorus is tailor-made for this company.
Being put through their pacesby demanding director Zach (Matthew Rossoff), the seventeen performers who makethe first cut (the show loses a third of its diverse cast after about 20minutes) are subjected to penetrating interviews. Who are they? What broughtthem to dance? What would they do if they couldn’t dance? Their stories are the show. Family problems, sexualawakenings, body image issues and more are beautifully addressed through songand dance.
In a pre-show speech, directorAmy Miller shared with the sold-out audience that A Chorus Line was her favorite musical because it was about realpeople. That, along with the fact that most of the cast have either lived or arecurrently living lives very similar to the ones they portray, made severalcharacters lack of credibility disappointing.
Some are played too broadly;others are not played strongly enough. Kristin Piro delivers an excellentCassie, but I didn’t buy her relationship with Zach for a second. Rossoffsimply did not exude the vocal power and physical authority required of therole.
More than credible was RoyzellD. Walker who, while having the least “legitimate” stage experience of the cast(he’s a recent graduate of the University of Alabama), brought a commandingstage presence, a terrific voice and dynamite dance moves to the character ofRichie. Natalie Gallo is superb as Diana Morales, who regales us first with hertale of being told she was “Nothing” and then with the show-stopping “What IDid for Love”.
It’s a good first effort bythe company that would have benefited from more nuanced direction. There’s greatdancing, some very nice vocal work, but uneven acting. In the parlance of theshow – Dance: 10, Voice: 8, Character: 6
‘A Chorus Line’ runs Friday through Sunday through June 30thin the Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen. The park opens at 5pm forpre-show picnicking; the show starts promptly at 7:30pm.
For more information, go to transcendencetheatre.org