A Chorus Line, now onstage at the Players Theatre, is one of those shows with legions of loyal, loving fans. They know it by heart, and the aspiring dancers auditioning for a place on the line of a new musical are like real friends to them.
One senses the cast of the Players production feels the same way about the show and its characters, who were drawn from real people and their stories by the show’s creators, James Kirwood, Nicholas Dante and original director-choreographer Michael Bennett. Director Jeffery Kin, who doubles as the make-believe musical’s tough director, Zach, has assembled a cast that is mostly able to breathe convincing life into their parts and deal with the demands of this heavily dance-oriented musical, choreographed by Berry Ayers.
Kin himself is strong as Zach, authoritatively in charge from the outset as he puts his would-be chorus line through their paces. As we get to know the 16 dancers who make the first cut, several especially stand out: the older-than-most Sheila (Jolie Rand), still aggressively using her sexuality to put herself out front; Diana (Geena Ravella), the would-be actress who felt Nothing in her acting classes; Kristine (Mary Burns), a likeable bubblehead who can’t Sing; Bobby (Logan O’Neill), an attention-grabbing storyteller. By the end of Act 1, we’ve made connections with almost all of them; Krista Hubschmitt scores as the outstanding sample of the plastic surgeon’s art on the energetic Dance: Ten, Looks: Three, and Rand, Cassie Caballero and Jennifer Massey have touched us with At the Ballet.
The montage numbers of Act I fare less well; either because of the theater’s sound system or the orchestra overpowering the vocalists, it’s nearly impossible to decipher some of the lyrics here. That’s unfortunate, and so was the overlong intermission on opening night, which must have made it hard for Kathryn Parks as Zach’s old lover, Cassie, to come back at the beginning of Act II and dance her heart out to The Music and the Mirror. It’s a challenge to sing and dance this difficult number, and it’s not really in Parks’ best vocal range, but she gives it her all, as does Brandon Brinson as Paul, the former drag queen with the heartfelt story of his struggles to be accepted.
Still, the impact of the show itself remains, and the audience is likely to roar with approval for the iconic One and What I Did for Love numbers. A Chorus Line continues through March 4; for tickets, call 365-2494 or go to theplayers.org.