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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 17, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 07
Competent Chorus Line doesn't elevate
Arts & Entertainment
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Competent Chorus Line doesn't elevate

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

A Chorus Line
Seattle Musical Theatre
Through March 4


Seattle Musical Theatre walks a difficult line. The company has a great deal of responsibility, with managing and maintaining a theater building that is the property of the City of Seattle, paying rent, and working on upgrades the building desperately needs, like air conditioning. They do that in a genre of theater that is often a cash cow: musicals. Yet their offerings are typically uneven, sometimes reaching well into the great or even excellent range, and sometimes in the more-or-less competent range.

This unevenness often stems from either the directorial side or the ability to field a great crop of actor/singers. Their production of A Chorus Line is in the competent range, due to both reasons. There are some lovely singers on stage, particularly Alana Peters, Madison Greenlund, Ryan McCabe, Brandt Sterling, and Dustyn Moir.

But this is an enormous show and also has to have great dancers as well as singers, and while most of the choreography doesn't have to be perfect (after all, they are only auditioning through most of the show), the last dance must be perfect, since it shows off everything they have been rehearsing for.

The other must-have is a true triple threat for Cassie, the older breakout star who hasn't broken out far enough and wants to go back to dancing. Giselle Brock is a beautiful woman with a nice voice and a solid dance background. However, the choreography for a very long dance piece needs to be vibrant and exciting, which director/choreographer Crystal Dawn Munkers doesn't create, and Brock's dancing is careful and tentative instead of abandoned and assured.

What was uncomfortably clear also was that many of the singers don't know where to sing from, with their voices coming lightly off the tops of their lungs rather than fully supported by their diaphragms. It undercuts their power and their ability to control their voices. When fielding a group of actor/singer/dancers from whomever shows up to audition, training their voices seems to be part of what is necessary to bring the show up notches or more.

The most successful part of this show was much of the dancing. Munkers does bring a lot of difficult choreography to life, and the fun of the show comes through in many of the songs and dances. The script has a lot of jokes in it, and many of them hit properly. One of the best numbers was 'Sing,' where Christine Riippi and Sterling play a dancer-wife who can't sing and a husband who keeps trying to support her anyway.

The show - one of the longest-running on Broadway - was about real chorus hoofers who brought their real stories to the writers, so it rings true to all of us. It embodies all of the angst of trying to get somewhere, having to prove yourself, and persevering even when nothing seems to support you.

You should note that it's done without intermission and runs straight through for two hours. It's also basically family-friendly fare, with a few earthy references to 'tits and ass,' and brief descriptions of family traumas, but a lot of great songs and dancing, and some laughs.

For more information, go to www.seattlemusicaltheatre.org or call 206-363-2809.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com.

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