Over the weekend I nearly committed my biggest theatrical boo-boo since turning down tickets to the Opening Night of Hair in New York in 1967. Well, it was off-Broadway. And it was Joe Papp’s first non-classical endeavour and who wanted to see a bunch of long-haired full-frontal hippies mocking the American flag in the age of Aquarius.
Saturday night I had tickets for the opening night of A Chorus Line and nearly didn’t go. I did see that show’s opening on Broadway in 1975 and it ran for 15 years, won heaps of Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize.
It’s one of the greatest musicals of all time. It was last staged here in 1977. Was it dated. Could it come back?
The reasons for my reluctance to spend Saturday night at Her Majesty’s were myriad. I hadn’t heard much advance mail. It was only going to run for about 35 performances. The after-show party was to be a few glasses of warm white wine in the foyer, I didn’t know who was in it, and there’d been a stuff-up with my tickets.
It sounded like a two-minute noodles job from Jeanne Pratt’s low-cost Production Company. To add to my suspicions I found out just before the show that the main character, the pivotal character of Zach, the casting director, was being played by Dancing with the Stars Judge Josh Horner. Okay, I hadn’t seen Billy Elliott. I just knew him from his hissy fits with Todd McKenny.
So there we were, having a regular Saturday night drink at JJ’s at Crown and the idea of a dinner at Bistro Guillaume or Rockpool sounded very tempting. Would have been my loss.
A few hours later, when I got home from a great night at the theatre I tweeted:
A Chorus Line. Opening night. Top night. Great talent. Josh Horner nails crucial role of Zach. Surprised such a short run. Don’t miss it.
In 140 characters I didn’t have room for more superlatives. A lot of people would only know the show from the movie. A generation wouldn’t know it at all. The movie, with Michael Douglas in the lead role of Zach, was a cop-out. He could talk the talk but not walk the walk so in the film he didn’t dance at all. Horner dances his feet off.
It’s all about the ensemble and, like a reality TV show, 17 wannabes desperately vie for eight spots in the chorus line. Being an ensemble cast you shouldn’t pick out special mentions. But. Special mentions to Anita Louise Combe as Cassie, Euan Doidge as Paul and Karlee Misipeka with the showstopper What I did for Love. And the sultry, sexy, Sheila played by the only woman on the Australian stage with legs as long as Rhonda Burchmore’s, Debora Krizak.
It kept bugging me where I’d seen her before. Of course… the Swedish secretary in The Producers. No, that was Chloe Dallimore. Dammit.
Well, the producers of this show should be ecstatic. Hope they can extend the season.
And life imitating art: You know how many wannabes auditioned for the 17 dance parts? 1200. Now, that’s show business.