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A Chorus Line (Hollywood Bowl)

When old warhorse musicals come alive and prove their worth in front of almost 18,000 screaming fans, you are in for a treat, indeed.  Part of the Hollywood Bowl’s eclectic programming (a month earlier they presented a staged “West Side Story”), this fully-cast, fresh-faced production of “A Chorus Line” only ran for three performances, with the majority of the cast having performed the show before.

What director and choreographer Baayork Lee wrought for us was a testament to the value of chorus girls and boys, amid the eternal struggle for dignity and respect in the Theatre.  Lee has enabled the brilliant work of the original director/choreographer, Michael Bennett, helping to keep it a historic monument, by carefully hewing to the original ground-breaking work. And aided by Patrick Vaccariello’s expert conducting, did it pay off!

From Lee’s casting to the expert strenuous dancing, to the emotional hues she brought out in the individual acting scenes, the show was a quick two hours on a moderately warm night under whatever stars can be seen beneath Hollywood’s reflective glare.

And taking one of the songs as an example, the musical showed us both Tits and Ass, as well as Pecs and Ass, a welcome diversion, one must agree.

Fully costumed, with a bevy of lights illuminating the entirety of the action, often in front of a large mirror, the professional cast achieved wonders, although Mario Lopez, as Zack, the choreographer for this new show, while a decent singer and actor, is no dancer.  But Sarah Bowden as Cassie Ferguson, the failed star who is willing to join back into the ranks of the chorus, was a standout in her dancing.  The “supporting” actor/dancers: Robert Fairchild as Mike (late of starring on Broadway in “An American in Paris), Spencer Liff as Larry. and Ross Lynch as Mark Anthony, made their characters real, as did the balance of the ensemble, including Krysta Rodriguez, a standout as Diana Morales, Mara Davi, as wide-eyed Maggie, J. Elaine Marcos as short-but-energetic Connie Wong, Courtney Lopez as Kristine Ulrich, Jason Tam as possibly the best Paul San Marco, the gay dancer who had debuted as a drag queen years before, we’ve ever seen, and Leigh Zimmerman, tall and statuesque, playing Sheila’s cynicism perfectly, eventually allowing the vulnerability beneath to show through.

Other dancer/actors included Cornelius Jones, Jr., Dennis Lambert, Ian Liberto, Tiana Okoye, Michael Starr, well-remembered for his work in L.A.’s “Carrie: The Killer Musical,” Kelsey Walston, and Justin Michael Wilcox,  Terrific, all.

This sort of stunt-event, (a two-week rehearsal, three-night run) was a box-office success, although the Bowl continues to be an ugly evening of too-many people in one spot at one time, with inadequate traffic controls – a nightmare for drivers.  On the plus side, once settled on your pillows, the action w-a-y below you can be seen on two large screens on either side of the stage, but bring your binoculars anyway – you’ll need ‘em.  Next time, for all of us.

“A CHORUS LINE” played July 29th.30th and 31st, 2016 at the Hollywood Bowl on North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA, 90028.