A Chorus Line
Theater West End • Sanford, Florida
Book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante
Music by Marvin Hamlisch • Lyrics by Edward Kleban
Directed and Choreographed by Mayme Paul
Starring Myles Thoroughgood
by Carl F. Gauze
Tonight was a very thrilling evening, and I hadn’t even reached Sanford yet. A classic Central Florida thunderstorm gave me a spectacular light show for the whole drive up to Sanford, and then I hit some flooded streets in Sanford itself. Who knew a Prius could float? At the theater, the entire block was out, apparently a transformer blew from a lightning strike. Will we even open tonight? The show did go on, but with an hour delay, we did not give our final applause until midnight. It was an ovation, and a good one.
The real drama came as we followed a group of young Broadway hopefuls auditioning for a Fosse-style musical in A Chorus Line. “I Need This Job” sets the mood of desperation. These are desperate kids, lost in the world and on their own in a big, expensive city. As we run through the dance moves, the mysterious unseen director, Zack (Thoroughgood), lurks in the back, questioning each of these hopefuls on what they want to be when they grow up. Will they ever get a speaking line on stage, or should they just take the Starbucks management training class? Optimism swells in the opening acts, but by the time the lights go up and the winners get instructions on rehearsal schedules and W2 forms, the losers really begin to examine their chances at success. They have poor odds, right up there with winning the lotto.
I’ve never been a big fan of this show, but it’s growing on me. Part of the problem is it’s not clear who you should cheer for—all the actors on stage are likable, vulnerable, and energetic. Some are new to the game and need a few bits of advice: Speak only when spoken to, stay in line, stay on time, be yourself but smile, and keep quiet otherwise. Mysterious Mr. Thoroughgood keeps up the probing questions and remains an intimidating figure in the dark. The actors are under the bright klieg lights, and I see them as ants in a third-grade science fair: confused, scared, and unlikely to come out alive. But they do survive, and the lucky ones get a rehearsal schedule and a fitting time. The losers bemoan their fates as they slowly starve to death in New York City. The field of dreams is scattered with their corpses, but they will be back for the next call, and the call after that, until they make it or have to slink back to Starbucks.
It’s a bittersweet story, and this production was worth the soggy drive. Just keep an eye on the radar when you head up there.