Wakefield High School
"God, I hope I get it, I hope I get it" is the anxious, jittery mantra that aspiring performers are all too familiar with. Well, for George Mason High School, there's no need to worry. They got it! Last night's dynamic performance of "A Chorus Line: High School Edition" was lively, bright, and above all, a "singular sensation."
An intimate portrait into the lives of Broadway's unsung heroes, "A Chorus Line" is a story about ordinary people, told in an extraordinary fashion. We follow the Broadway chorus audition process and learn the dancers' backstories and empathize with what has led them to this moment. Recipient of nine Tony awards and the Pulitzer Prize for drama, "A Chorus Line" has resonated with legions of performers since it's debut in 1975. With a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante and music by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban, the show has inspired several revivals, a film, and millions of aspiring stars hoping for their big break.
The show starts with a "step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch" from the iconic opener, "I Hope I Get It." The ensemble performers light up the stage with their clean choreography and do a superb job of capturing the commotion of a busy audition without anyone getting lost in the buzz.
After the first round of cuts, the director is left with 17 hopefuls fighting to get a chance to dance on the great white way. From these 17, the backbone of "A Chorus Line" is formed. Not all are the clichéd divas you might expect from show biz. Instead, the disparate group of hopefuls is made up of characters who feel truly authentic. There is an incredible dynamic among the actors, each supporting the others while they share their stories.
"A Chorus Line" is an ensemble piece above all else yet there are several stand out performances. As Bobby, Matthew Bloss-Baum performs the monologue about his upbringing with perfect timing and hilarious delivery. Also, Judy's (played by Ciara Curtin) tale of childhood woe had the audience in stitches. Husband and wife duo, Al and Kristine (Jasper Litton and Amalia Alexander) shined with their duet, "Sing!," which recounted Kristine's struggle with her singing voice and Al's oh-so-gracious help.
While comedy is a huge part of "A Chorus Line," the show also delivered poignant and raw emotional moments. In perhaps the most moving moment of the show, Paul (Drew Miller) tells the story of his parents' discovery of his career as a drag queen, leaving him (and the entire audience) in tears. Also notable was Catherine Sanchez Crowe as Diana Morales, a friend of Paul, who sings "What I Did For Love" as an ode to the devotion an actor feels to her craft.
In an unbelievable case of real-life imitating art, Krissy Hornbuckle, originally cast as Lori, learned at 10 am on performance day that she would instead portray the role of Cassie. Hornbuckle was electric, performing as if she had originated this role. Her solo "The Music and the Mirror" was spectacular and Hornbuckle's dancing was a major standout.
"A Chorus Line" calls for a bare-bones set to represent a typical audition room. Dan Kramer, Callie Russell, Nina Rifkin, and Ana Karin Iturralde captured this with a beautifully executed dance mirror that aided every number and framed the set while the costumes (Elizabeth Hoofnagle, Savvy Smith, Gayle Lobaton) were authentic audition attire.
Giving us a glimpse into the perfectly imperfect world of show business, George Mason's remarkable production of "A Chorus Line" was powerful, poignant, and teaches us that behind every head shot is a story with impact!
Leydi Cris Cobo Cordon
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Paul's into drag. Don has a family to provide for. Kristine can't sing. Greg's gay. Val's not pretty enough. Diana feels nothing. Cassie can't get a job. The complex and usually troubling backstories of those in show biz are tastefully explored in George Mason High School's glamorous rendition of A Chorus Line: High School Edition, complete with glittery costumes and flashy dancing.
A Chorus Line, with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, and book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, follows a variety of dancers with diverse backgrounds as they audition to be a part of the chorus line. Zach, the director, not only has the auditionees perform a wide range of dances, including tap and ballet, but takes an interest in their personal lives. The many songs in the musical dig deeper into the characters and reveal the often heartbreaking nature of their rough past, giving an honest rendition of the not always glamorous lifestyle of show business. The show opened off-Broadway in 1975 at The Public Theater, and became the longest-running show in Broadway history by 1983.
George Mason's performance of A Chorus Line was anchored by their notably talented dancers, who skillfully executed an assortment of dances. The choreography was especially well-rehearsed and clean. Many ensemble members also demonstrated amazing feats of flexibility like flips, cartwheels, and leaps.
Krissy Hornbuckle's Cassie was a strikingly skilled dancer, showcasing her astounding talent during "The Music and the Mirror." It was incredible how well she executed the dances and admirably performed the songs, having only learned that she'd be taking on the role that morning. Zach was wonderfully brought to life by Avery Collins who consistently acted, keeping up his facial expressions even when he was in the audience. Collins rose to the challenge of building his character despite his being off-stage most of the show, relying on his voice to express his emotions. Hornbuckle and Collins both had great passion and were truly committed during their tense argument, adding to their strong chemistry.
Catherine Sanchez Crowe's fantastic portrayal of Diana featured strong singing and terrific dancing. Sanchez Crowe brought a superb depth to her character, using varied acting techniques to engage the audience. Val, played by Pauline Bonner, was a confident dancer and good singer, captivating the audience during her monologue. Bonner truly shined in the song "Dance: 10; Looks: 3" with brilliant movements and expressive singing. Another standout performer was Ciara Curtin, who played Judy. Curtin provided excellent comedic relief and developed a lovable personality.
The set and special effects departments collaborated to create the illusion of a dance studio, making a wall of mirrors. Dan Kramer, Callie Russell, Nina Rifkin, and Ana Karin Iturralde used a special material that required heat shrinking to make it smooth, allowing for a mirror-like appearance. The mirrors were dulled so as to not blind the audience, showing an immense attention to detail. Elizabeth Hoofnagle and her costume crew constructed an artful array of colorful athletic costumes. They masterfully executed a challenging quick change involving the whole cast putting on flashy gold costumes right before the finale.
Requiring highly skilled dancers and bold singers, George Mason's production of A Chorus Line valiantly rose to the challenge, putting on a fabulous, praiseworthy performance.