Saturday, June 9, 2018

QUICK TAKE REVIEW By Beverly Creasey Hello Again CHORUS LINE

            While the company is singing “Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen,” it’s really Hello Reagle, celebrating fifty years of fully staged Broadway musicals. At Reagle’s helm is the remarkable Bob Eagle… and the anniversary awards are pouring in.
A CHORUS LINE came into being when Michael Bennett struck theatrical gold by highlighting the individual “gypsies” in a show. Many of the stories he recorded made it verbatim into A CHORUS LINE. (Alas none of the gold made it into any of their pockets. That’s the legend, anyway.)

Reagle’s kick line for this production has its own backstage drama: Aimee Doherty (who stole the show as the wise cracking Sheila last time Reagle did A CHORUS LINE) got the chance to sing at POPS on press night so most of the reviewers didn’t see her. Oh, no! (I feel certain she’s still capable of larceny.)

Bob Eagle cements his reputation as a wizard because he flew in Lauren Gemelli for one night for the plum role. (I wouldn’t be surprised if it involved a magic carpet.) Gemelli is on loan from the national tour of CHICAGO. (I’ve seen her in CHICAGO and she’s one of the best things in it.) By the by, “Sheila” is the best role in A CHORUS LINE. (Scholars differ, I know!) But Gemelli nails it.

Mind you, there is no plot. And most of the stories are pretty schmaltzy so cheeky stands out in welcome relief. Sydney Parra proves my point with a solid “Nothing,” about a nasty drama school instructor. So does Ansley Speares in the naughty “Dance: Ten. Looks: Three.”

For my money, if you’re delivering one of the sad stories in A CHORUS LINE, and you make me believe, even “feel” something (that’s the risk in Parra’s song), then you’re a knockout. Makai Hernandez did. Director Leslie Woodies found a stash of talented conservatory students to fill out the line.

Best of all in Reagle’s production is Taavon Gamble as Richie He sure can “do that.” He’s delightful. He’s funny. He can sing and oh, can he dance!