Being an actor isn’t as easygoing and luxurious as many Hollywood stars may lead you to believe. It’s an exhausting passion, full of rejection, sacrifice and compromise. The Victoria Operatic Society’s presentation of A Chorus Line invites audiences into the world of the famous Broadway show, to see and experience the taxing audition process the performers go through, and what they left behind to pursue their dreams.
Since it’s premiere in 1975, the Tony-winning musical has shown audiences how different it is from the other Broadway powerhouses, by going for a less-is-more approach. Chorus Line follows seventeen dancers, hopeful they’ll nail their current audition and gain a part in the unnamed show. Judging them is the director Zach (Gabriel MacDonald), who spends most of the show offstage, goading each of the actors to reveal personal facts from their past to humanize most of them. Among the Broadway hopefuls is Val(Sadie Evans), an actress who underwent a little nip and tuck to gain more roles, Sheila (Ursula Szkolak), the gorgeous, sassy dancer who remembers her unhappy upbringing, Al and Kristine (Liam McDonald and Katelyn Mackellen), a happily married couple who are working on improving Kristine’s tone-deaf singing voice, and Cassie (Alison Roberts), a once shining up-and-comer, now struggling to find a job. Each character is given a moment where they provide insight on what inspired them to join the theatre world, while some are given much more dialogue than others. I would have loved more backstory on characters like Keeley Teuber’s Maggie, or Andrew Ross’s Don.
A Chorus Line isn’t a quick night at the theatre. Pushing almost three hours (including a twenty-minute intermission), you can’t help but feel impressed at the cast giving their 100% for the entirety of the show’s run. With big, belting solo songs, and quick choreography, the cast excels at getting every step right, making you believe they really, really want to get cast. While the cast as a whole puts on a great show, there are a few star performers among them. Alison Roberts as Cassie absolutely kills it, dominating her ten-minute singing/dancing/acting performance without seeming breaking a sweat. Desirae Barkman also makes a mark as the pure-hearted Diana, who gets two of the big solo numbers in the show, and delivers it wonderfully.
With it being opening night, the show doesn’t quite nail its audition perfectly. Some songs were pitchy at times, and at other moments when a character was talking during a song, the singing was so loud you could barely hear a word being said. Also, some of the show’s more dramatic and dark moments don’t quite deliver the punch in the gut you might be expecting or wanting.
Overall, the Victoria Operatic Society delivers a successful performance of the classic musical, with triple threat talents and fantastic songs. A Chorus Line successfully hits the right notes, and takes the audience through an entertaining night at the theatre as well.
The show is currently playing at the McPherson Playhouse, and will be running until December 4th. For more info, click here.