Theater Review: Munopco ‘Chorus Line’ a ‘singular sensation’
“A Chorus Line,” the award-winning concept musical, is a triple threat.
It requires consummate acting, impressive singing and polished dancing from nearly every one of its 19 cast members. The director, in turn, is faced with the formidable task of casting all of the diverse roles, and getting the best character interpretations out of each of the performers.
That is why the MunOpCo Music Theatre’s production of “A Chorus Line,” 8 p.m. March 22, 23 and 2 p.m. March 24, Scottish Rite Cathedral, Allentown, is such a phenomenal undertaking, and happily, a singular success. The opening night March 16 performance was seen for this review.
“A Chorus Line” was conceived by Michael Bennett, with book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, and music by Marvin Hamlish and lyrics by Edward Kleban. The original 1975 Broadway production received a Pulitzer Prize for drama and nine Tony awards, including best musical, book and score. It was the longest-running production in Broadway history until surpassed by “Cats” in 1997.
The musical focuses on the self-reflections of 17 young dancers auditioning for spots in the chorus line of a Broadway show. The characters reveal intimate details about their lives and what motivates them to dance.
MunOpCo’s production has its own triple threat in director Daniel Petrovich, music director Chris Hamm and choreographer Ali Santos.
Petrovich has done such an outstanding job of casting and overseeing the actors’ performances that it is easy to imagine that the players on stage are actually portraying themselves.
Hamm’s music direction enhances the 14 musical numbers that include well-known songs “At the Ballet,” “One” and “What I Did for Love.” Nine of those numbers include the entire company: another noteworthy challenge.
Choreographer Santos, who also plays Diana, has done a remarkable job of designing and coordinating the steps and movements in the dance routines. It is hard to believe it is her first effort at choreography.
“A Chorus Line” is presented on a bare stage with a row of mirrors at the back. Always clever, Brett Oliveira creates mirrors without the glass. His use of a scrim creates a dreamy backdrop to “At the Ballet.”
Heading up the cast are Seth Rohrbach as Zach, the director and choreographer, and Jennifer Dorn as Laurie, Zach’s assistant.
Rohrbach’s vocal quality is ideal, especially when heard coming from out in the house where directors do their directing. While addressing the dancers, he projects just the right tone of authority mixed with caring.
Dorn looks and acts every bit the part of the professional dancer and choreographer because she is both in real life.
Among the 17 auditioners, Grace Lingenfelter is a stand-out as Cassie, Zach’s former girlfriend who hasn’t had a job dancing in two years and is desperate. Her solo dance to “The Music and the Mirror” evokes Cassie’s frustration, and captures the meaning of the lyrics: “God, I’m a dancer, A dancer dances. Give me somebody to dance with.”
All of the actors-dancers deserve applause for their distinctive portrayals: Jordan Fidalgo (Sheila), Melissa Dorflinger (Val), Ali Santos (Diana), Marissa Dibilio (Judy), Shannon Cornish (Kristine), Mariah Nagle (Maggie), Mary Eitzenberger (Bebe), Abigail Simon (Connie), Clave Martin (Mike), Andrew Stewart (Richie), Brian Houp (Don), Isaiah Headrington (Paul), Edwin Lopez (Mark), Ricardo Negron (Greg), Jaedon Muhl (Bobby) and Gabriel Craig (Al).
To borrow from the lyrics of “One” from “A Chorus Line,” MunOpCo and its talented cast and crew have created “One singular sensation … One thrilling combination.”
Tickets: Scottish Rite Cathedral box office, 1533 Hamilton St. Allentown; munopco.org/tickets; 610-437-2441