I have been fortunate enough to see many a production of A Chorus Line, however Pendleton Sixth Form Centre's offering stands out above most due to its incredibly tight and talented cast. Directed by Kelly Cullen with sumptuous chorography from Hannah Birch this show is as bright as the lights on Broadway where the show first opened in 1975.
The show opens in the middle of an audition for an upcoming Broadway production. The formidable director Zach (Deane Dixon-Foster) and his assistant choreographer Laura (Helana Keane) put the dancers through their paces. Every dancer is desperate to secure a part. After the next round of cuts, 17 dancers remain. Zach tells them he is looking for a strong dancing chorus of four boys and four girls. He wants to learn more about them, and asks the dancers to introduce themselves. With reluctance, the dancers reveal their pasts. The stories progress chronologically from early life experiences through adulthood to the end of a career.
With a cast of 27 to name them all would make for a long review. Suffice to say each and everyone gave 100% during their time on stage. There were however a number of standout performances worthy of specific note.
Foster as Zach proves to be a strict director marshalling the audition from the first to the last moment. Seated in the auditorium for a large proportion of the show this helps draw the audience into the performance. Maisie Melia-Redgrave also impresses as the sassy, sexy dancer Sheila, who tells of her unhappy childhood, she delivers some great one liners and a superb rendition of ‘At the Ballet’.
Another highlight was Val (Rebecca Bolton) who expertly delivered the shows risqué number ‘Tits and Ass’ along with some choice words at times. Married couple Kristine (Katherine Bancroft) and Al (Niall Whitehead) performed a lament that Kristine could never "Sing!" and is interrupted by her Al finishing her phrases in tune. A song that had been meticulously rehearsed.
Cassie (Thea Bunting) has an energetic dance number she performs to try and impress old flame Zach in an attempt to get him to cast her in a more major role than the chorus line.
Final praise must go to Mike Gardiner as Paul. He emotionally relives his childhood and high school experience in a lengthy monologue, speaking of his early career in a drag act and coming to terms with his manhood and his homosexuality, and his parents' ultimate reaction to finding out about his lifestyle. You literally could hear a pin drop in the auditorium as the audience were transfixed to superb acting.
A Chorus Line is a complete triumph and if the future of musical theatre in this country rests on this cast and other performing arts students around the UK, on this basis it’s going to be in very safe hands indeed.
A Chorus Line continues at Pendleton Sixth Form Centre until Friday 22nd May.
Reviewer: Paul Downham
Reviewed: 19th May 2015