Review: “A Chorus Line” in Novato

A Chorus Line really isn’t done much by community theatres these days. The 1976 multi-award-winning musical requires about two dozen experienced dancer/singers to fill out the cast; a requirement that’s tough to fulfill.  If you’re gonna do it, best to start with a director with over four decades of experience in dance and choreography and a lot of present and former students on which to call.  Such is the case with Novato Theater Company’s Marilyn Izdebski-directed production running now through September 30.

The show’s premise is simple; a group of dancers auditioning for ensemble roles in a Broadway show are being run through their paces by an imperious director (Gregory Crane). They’ll sing, they’ll dance, they’ll share their personal stories and it’ll all end with the classic gold lamé-costumed production number “One”.

We meet young dancers hoping to land their first show, veteran dancers just looking for a job, dancers who can’t sing and singers who can’t act. We hear stories through the score by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban of how dance came into their lives (“I Can Do That”, “At the Ballet”) and what dance means to them (“The Music and the Mirror”). We hear stories of sexual awakening (“Hello Twelve”) and body image issues (Dance: Ten; Looks: Three”).

The cast of “A Chorus Line”

The stories are told, sung, and danced by a dynamic cast of newcomers and veterans. All do well, but standouts were Deborah Ann Spake as the veteran Cassie who has history with the director, Anna Vorperian as Diana, a dancer who’s tired of being underestimated, and Bryan Munar as Paul San Marco. Munar’s delivery of a monologue about San Marco’s difficult youth and the life that led him to the stage was incredibly affecting.            

Musical director Judy Wiesen and her band open the show with the cast doing a number about the mindset of a performer at an audition. It’s called “I Hope I Get It”.

They got it.

‘A Chorus Line’ runs through September 30 at the Novato Theater Company, 5420 Nave Dr., Suite C, Novato; 415.883.4498. Engagement is sold out but tickets may be available at the door.  novatotheatercompany.org.

Photos by Fred Deneau

This review originally appeared in the Pacific Sun.

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