Peg and I saw A Chorus Line at Tacoma Little Theatre two years ago . . . it did so well, they were bringing it back at the end of the season, however COVID darkened our lives and our theatres here in Tacoma and around the world. We’ve been waiting for A Chorus Line ever since. This time we brought along my cousin, Lavinia Hart who retired from teaching acting and directing at Wayne State University in Detroit and is now a resident of Lakewood. We had a great time and enjoyed the entire production.
A Chorus Line is set on a bare bones stage of a Broadway theater filled with singers/dancers who want to be chosen to participate in a new musical. Normally the wannabes would be competing for the parts, but the director, played by Michael O’Hara, changes the tune. He wants to mentally strip them down to their core. He makes it personal, which means the competitors really are vying with themselves.
It’s not easy to cast a musical or a play, whether you are on Broadway or at a Little Theatre in Tacoma, Washington. Casting and how the cast becomes an ensemble is one of the great mysteries of live performance. Cast members quickly learn to weave in and out of each moment, giving focus and energy to the one holding the stage. They have each other’s back. They care for every aspect of the event, covering and fixing little mishaps with the audience rarely knowing.
One of my favorite characters is Bobbie, played by Nick Fitzgerald. He gave a little different reading in this current production, probably from the director’s viewpoint. He has some great lines. The character is gay and had considered suicide, but thought suicide and living in Buffalo, New York was redundant. Nick has played other roles, but Peg and I have only seen him in A Chorus Line at Tacoma Little Theatre.
Another favorite is Loucus T. Curry. He, too was in the last production of A Chorus Line. Loucus first caught our eye in Smokie Joe’s Cafe, also at Tacoma Little Theatre. We saw the show three times including with a group of members of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8. He has a nice voice, and comes across as very friendly and funny.
Val (Melanie Gladstone) performed Dance: Ten: Looks: Three. She did a great job singing and dancing. This was the second time seeing her in the same role as well. She is currently directing the upcoming production of The Diary of Anne Frank at Lakewood Playhouse.
We’ve seen Richard Cubi twice at Tacoma Musical Playhouse. Both times he was in the chorus, but his dancing caught our eye both times. As Mike, Richard had a chance to show off his dancing skills even more. His solo was “I Can Do That,” which has been one of the Doman family favorite songs from A Chorus Line dating back to 1975. It’s a great song and his performance of singing and dancing was excellent.
Whitney Shafer as Cassie gave a wonderful performance as a dancer/actress returning to her roots after meeting failure in Hollywood. The director says she is too good to be in the chorus, and yet, that’s where she is the most at ease. We had seen her as Cassie before at TLT, but I think we appreciated her more this time. We had just seen her as Belle in Disenchanted at Tacoma Musical Theatre. She has also appeared at TMP as Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain. I wish we had seen her in that excellent tap dancing filled production.
The most vivid event of “A Chorus Line” occurs after the dancer Paul (Roycen Daley) is injured. It’s the second time his knee has given out and it’s possible he won’t dance again. The question is asked – “What would you do if you couldn’t dance?” The character Diana Morales works through a response that becomes an anthem for all performers. It’s a gift. When it’s gone, there are no regrets. What remains are the memories of what you did with your cast members and each audience. Keola Holt plays Morales. Her rendering of the song “What I Did for Love” filled the space with the sheer joy an artist experiences when art happens. Her love of what she creates on stage reaches out to the heart of every single audience member who let her know how they felt with applause, cheers and many shouts of ‘brava’. The song is the creed of why actors, singers, and dancers endure, no matter how hard it is to survive in the business. It is also the crystallization of why audience members face bad weather, high prices at the gas pumps and pandemics to attend live art – we need that bit of joy to remind us how great it is to be a human being.
So welcome back to “A Chorus Line” which contains the smoke, mirrors, pathos, ambitions and magic that thousands of performers across America and the world seek. Don’t miss this or many of the other live theatrical productions that are thankfully coming back to the public.
All photos are courtesy of Dennis K Photography.
The entire artistic staff at Tacoma Little Theatre did a marvelous job . . . from Director Eric Clausell to the Build and Paint Crew. TLT should be very proud of their work and its acceptance and love. A Chorus Line runs through April 3rd. Some performance are already sold out.
Tickets for A Chorus Line – tix6.centerstageticketing.com/sites/tacomalt/event-details.php?e=378
This review was written by Don and Peg Doman, and Lavinia Hart.