“WST is the only fully independent youth-run summer theatre in the Washington, DC area,” my program explains to me. Make no mistake; here, youth-run is not synonymous with amateur. In this production, the cast is not just dancing in a show—they are in a show about dancing. Color me impressed by this young cast’s ability not only to dance at a high-caliber level, but to sing while doing so.
Choreographer Kelsey Spencer has put together three big-scale production numbers that all achieve something quite different. “I Hope I Get It” captures the brutal and repetitive audition process. When it continues in “One,” we begin to see the power of the dancers moving in sync to a polished and Broadway-bound routine. Last, the lengthy montage sequence that begins with “Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love” is comprised of more fun, rocking movements that allow us to really see the joy of dancing for these characters.
A Chorus Line, which opened on Broadway in 1975, has music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, and a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante. It was awarded 9 Tony Awards. In A Chorus Line, which has a simple plot, 17 dancers are vying for 8 spots in the show Zach (Alex Palmer) is directing. At Zach’s prompting, the dancers share stories about their lives. Given that we pretty much only get one vignette per character, none of them can be described as particularly three-dimensional, but the cast does their best to inhabit them.
Director Devin Goodman has a talented cast to work with and they all deliver fine performances. Here are some of the highlights: Mike (Corey Levine) leaves a lasting impression with his spunky and strutting tap number “I Can Do That”. Bobby (Chris Naughton) is a natural-born storyteller, recounting his childhood with a bitter flamboyance. Sheila (Shabnam Salek) channels a sassy Bebe Neuwirth before leading a trio (Rebecca Adelson and Gabriela Schulman) in the heartbreaking “At The Ballet.” Diana (Alexa Soriano) does a wicked impression of her pretentious acting teacher in “Nothing.” And Paul (Tiziano D’Affuso) delivers a painful and heartfelt monologue about learning to “be a man,” with enough realistic restraint to keep it from being melodramatic.
KayCee Tucker’s lighting design was sophisticated and simple—washed out pale for scenes in “reality” and bright blues, purples and greens for the songs. At times, there would be attempts at “shadow dancing” behind the scrim, which could have been more distinct. Sound was, for the most part, pretty high-quality. The orchestra was perfectly mixed. While there were more than a few line drops due to microphone issues, the actors never let this trip them up. I am confident that this problem will be rectified before the next performance.If you want to see some truly impressive singing and dancing—for any age—Wilwood Summer Theatre’s A Chorus Line is the place to be. Don’t miss it!
A Chorus Line plays through July 27, 2013 at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School – 4301 East-West Highway, in Bethesda, MD, Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 240-583-0978, by mail or at the door.
Wildwood Summer Theatre Presents A Chorus Line July 19-27th by Rocky Nunzio.