"A CHORUS LINE” IS RHYTHM PERSONIFIED


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Even if you have two left feet, answer to the name of wallflower and have never anticipated going to an Arthur Murray Dance Studio, you can’t help being engaged in the energetic and exciting production of “A Chorus Line” currently kicking up its heels at West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park until Sunday, July 31.

Michael Bennett gets full credit for the original idea, direction and choreography, with book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban. “A Chorus Line” takes you into the hearts, minds and bodies of Broadway wannabes who are at an audition, a cattle call to find eight dancers for a brand new musical. The hopefuls are soon pared down to seventeen in number, all praying “I Hope I Get It.”

They know their shelf life is a short one because of the intense demands on their physicality, and they all dream of being a success, a Ginger Rogers or Fred Astaire. As they learn their step: kick, kick, touch, turn, pivot steps with Larry (Spenser Pond), they know they have to impress Zach (Eric S; Robertson) if they have any chance of being selected. First he interviews each one, needing to know personal details about them, how Mike (Alex Polzun) followed his sister to dance class and earned himself the name Twinkle Toes, why the aggressively self-assured Sheila (Tracey Mellon) pursued her mother’s toe shoes into the ballet, when Diana (Bobbi Barricella) realized that an improvisational acting class wasn’t for her, how Mark (Jared Starkey) let a little medical knowledge confuse him and Val (Andee Bucchen) who acknowledged early on that no matter how well she dances she needs the looks to clinch the deal.

For Paul (Tino Ardiente), dance is a way for him to reinvent himself even though it becomes emotionally wrenching for him, while Cassie (Michelle Pruiett) has to overcome a long ago personal relationship with Zach and beg him to give her a chance. Others in this talented troupe include Richie (Ronnie Bowman, Jr,), Bebe (Kyla  Starr Bryan), Don (Ben Cooley), Kristine (Mallory Cunningham), Maggie (Sarah Kozlow), Connie (Rina Maejima), Bobby (Peej Mele), Judy (Cara Rashkin), Al (Jeremy Seiner) and Greg (Max Jacob Weinstein).

While the dance is spectacular and sensual, electric and energizing, with the group’s strong unison steps, songs like “Hello Twelve,” “Dance: Ten, Looks: Three,” “What I Did For Love” and “One” are clearly singular sensations, as directed by Sean Harris and Darlene Zoller, who also choreographs the smash numbers. Musical direction is set at a synchronized pace set by Emmett Drake and Michael Morris.

For tickets ($32.50-45 ), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900,ext. 10 or online at www.playhouseonpark.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Prepare to slide and glide, kick and cartwheel, as these eager dancers, with determination and dedication, show “what they did for love."

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