Snazzy dance steps, brassy crescendos, and a gritty, realistic glimpse of life backstage, as nervous dancers audition for a demanding Broadway director. That’s the thumbnail description of “A Chorus Line.”
This show had a revolutionary impact in the late Seventies. Audiences waited in line for hours to get tickets. But “A Chorus Line” kind of disappeared in the Nineties – partly because it requires a huge cast that can sing AND dance, making it expensive to stage. Many people under 30 barely know this show as a result.
And a funny thing happened with the passage of decades. “A Chorus Line” hasn’t changed, but maybe the world has. The heart-tweaking monologue by a dancer whose parents finally realize he’ s gay was an eye-opener for lots of people 35 years ago – but nowadays we’ve seen this kind of scene many times. Ditto the vignette about a teenage guy experiencing what we’ll call sudden male response, or the song about a flat-chested dancer who hires a plastic surgeon to expand her audition appeal. This kind of mature material has become standard in musicals during the last 20 years.
The other thing about “A Chorus Line” is that after a while, the songs start sounding the same.
(music: “God I Really Blew It, I Really Blew It, How Could I Do A Thing Like That…”)
But this show has always been about dancing more than anything, and the big production numbers still take your breath away – particularly the finale, with its sequined costumes and high leg kicks.
So think of “A Chorus Line” as a Broadway landmark, a turning point in the history of the American Musical, and – if you lived through the 1970s – a blast from the past. But if you’re a young adult seeing the show for the first time, you may wonder what all the excitement was about.
Broadway Sacramento presents "A Chorus Line" at the Community Center Theatre through May 30th.