Not seen on the London stage since a 1976 outing at Drury Lane, the 1975 Broadway smash hit A Chorus Line shuffles and ball changes its way onto the Palladium stage in this glorious production exploring the highs and lows of show business.
The show is a time capsule, in look, style, music and design. A piece of 70s theatre which feels as fresh and relevant today as ever. Transporting you with ease to a Broadway stage in 1975 as hopeful American auditionees bare their souls and dance their feet off in the hope of obtaining a part in the chorus for hard nose director Zach's new show. Long before TV talent contests became our Saturday night viewing, A Chorus Line showed us the pain behind the smiles of those desperately searching fame, acceptance and a chance to perform.
The vast stage of the Palladium isn't easy to fill at the best of times and the black box set, with occasional use of mirrors, is unforgiving, which means it is the performers that need to capture, transfix and shine, and they do so with gusto. Never before has such raw talent been seen on the stage in one line, this faultless cast are all stars, which makes the crushing irony all the more painful: We go from knowing each of the individual characters as they open themselves up to Zach, to seeing them disappear into the anonymous chorus line by the end.
The London Cast Of A Chorus Line - Photography by Manuel Harlan
John Partridge as Zach gives a hugely enjoyable performance. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt steals the show as Diana with her renditions of 'Nothing' and 'What I Did For Love', in which you could hear a pin drop in the vast Palladium. Scarlett Strallen as Cassie, the one time star, now trying to return to the chorus line shows vulnerability, passion and took my breath away in what felt like an intense dance for survival. The creative team behind the show including direction by Bob Avian and re-staged choreography from Baayork Lee (herself an original cast member) allow the show room to breathe and create iconic moment and iconic movement.
There is a worry that A Chorus Line is a show for those who love or are involved in the theatre industry and there may be some truth to that. However the sheer power of the dance, songs and actors on stage can't fail to captivate. If you know little about the show I can highly recommend you watch the wonderful documentary 'Every Little Step' focusing on casting the Broadway revival and looking back at the creation of the show. It gives a fascinating insight into what those on stage had to go through to get there and adds a whole new dimension to the experience of watching it.
A Chorus Line is a love letter to theatre, a celebration of everyone who has pursued their dreams to entertain us. Running at two hours without an interval I felt utterly absorbed in the performance, so that come the show stopping razzamataz of the finale and the final formation of the legendary chorus line I couldn't help but leap to my feet and applaud this wonderful show.
A Chorus Line is currently running at the London Palladium. Tickets are on sale now.www.achoruslinelondon.com