Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan
One of the dangers of doing a musical after a movie version is produced is that people will compare the two versions. I must admit I did this last Sunday at The Forum in Binghamton, even though I tried to avoid that pitfall. Bearing that in mind, I must admit that the Broadway Theatre League’s presentation of “A Chorus Line” left me disappointed. While the dancing was superb, I found most of the acting to be poor and the singing off-key and mediocre at best.
I was looking forward to seeing this musical. The opening number was great with its high-energy choreography. However, it went down hill from there. The actors line dup in a “chorus line,” and one by one their stories unfolded. When Diana (Gina Duci) sang about feeling “Nothing, “she failed to convey the emotional turmoil of her character. Also, it is mentioned that Diana is Puerto Rican, yet Duci neglected that part of her role. Her delivery was that of a sweet, innocent girl, not a strong ethnic woman with attitude. This left me deeply unsatisfied as she was unable to capture the passion of Diana.
Most of the cast seemed to be fighting the music, alternating by either being too loud or quiet. Nothing seemed to gel well for them. However, there were definite stand-outs in the cast,
Carleigh Bettiol, the understudy for Cassie, performed very well. Her acting was honest, and she sang with emotional commitment. Similarly, Sheila, played by Suzanna Dupree, delivered a great performance. She captured the attitude, plight and insecurity of an “older” dancer. Although she was off-pitch at times, her honesty and vulnerability made up for her technical difficulties. Lastly Paul, played by Gaspare Diblasi, stood out. In a very quiet moment, he revealed his harrowing past without “hamming it up.” He was a definite breath of fresh air in this production.
“A Chorus Line” succeeds in its stellar choreography (originally by Michael Bennett) and execution. The success of this touring production was limited, however, due to its rather underwhelming acting and singing. Performed without an intermission, its two hours seemed longer. Let’s hope that “The Color Purple” will return to the high standard of theater that one expects when going to a production brought to us by the Broadway Theater League.