A Chorus Line is held up as one of the musical greats on Broadway. The original production ran for an incredible 6,137 performances, and is very much a staple of American musicals but this new production at The Lowry directed by Simon Rawlings and produced by Pele Productions shows that the show's themes of ambition, drive, determination and sometimes failure are universal.
I was excited to see this production, because as a fan of the show, I have fond memories of the revival on Broadway. Happily I can report that this new production does not disappoint. The story of course is simple, a group of dancers audition to be a part of the chorus in a new Broadway show. During this process, each are asked to reveal who they really are. Yes, the story really is that straightforward, but it’s this simplicity that makes A Chorus Line so timeless and appealing. There are no flashy sets and no gimmicks, just a great score with human stories carrying the show all the way through the finale.
Pele's production has much to praise, from the beautifully performed "At the Ballet" to the crowd pleasing end. This Chorus Line is slick, tight and has a wonderful cast, many of whom would be right at home doing the show on Broadway. The one slight let-down is the choreography, sure, it's energetic and impressive. But, at times it felt a little, dare I say, diluted and scaled down. A disastrously choreographed "Music in the Mirror" brings the curtain down on Act One, leaving you feeling cold, yet this is usually a dance highlight. Luckily though, the show's other big moments are handled with great skill and fire.
Thankfully, the cast put it all on the line with Drew McOnie, Olivia Phillip, Jenny Gayner, Emma Dalton and Andrew Ahern all giving show-stopping performances. Ahern’s Act Two opener is one of the highlights and Twinnie–Lee Moore's Cassie also lights up the stage when given the chance to showcase her impressive vocals and acting chops. Sadly, the weak link in the cast is Hollyoaks' star Jamie Lomas as director Zach, as he brings very little to the role and is often left lost in the background. But, this is no surprise considering the sheer amount of talent on the stage.
These small criticisms however, cannot take anything away from what is a very strong production. From the lighting to the costume, every detail is top notch.
A Chorus Line is a show about passion and this production has that coming out of its legwarmers. If the first night is anything to go by, this Broadway classic remains a singular sensation.