Friday, October 06, 2006

Did Chorus Line Do Enough For Love Of Critics?

Did Chorus Line Do Enough For Love Of Critics?

It takes a lot to live up to expectations when one of Broadway's most beloved and longest-lasting shows is revived. So did A Chorus Line wow the critics?

At least one critic was smitten. Joe Dziemianowicz of New York's Daily News gushes the most in saying, "Cassie, Val, Paul and the gang are back -- and they're invigorating Broadway in the sure-footed revival of A Chorus Line....The musical doesn't pack the one-two wallop of innovation and discovery it once did. How could it? But for its 2 hours and 10 minutes, it is still addictively entertaining."

David Rooney of Variety notes, "[T]his lovingly mounted replica gives ample evidence of what makes the show such a landmark....What's missing here is ownership.....[W]hile everybody works hard, no one quite dazzles. That seems dictated not by any lack of talent but by the fundamental limitations of the production's approach....The actors onstage feel like topnotch replacements rather than originators. It's the sense of duplication -- albeit lovingly executed -- that keeps the revival from soaring."

The New York Times' Ben Brantley was clearly let down, "For five thrilling, fleeting minutes, it’s heaven on Broadway....the rest of the show feels recycled....Now isn’t one of the points of A Chorus Line that musicals are not machines?"

Brantley's point of view is echoed in Linda Winer's Newsday account: "(Director and choreographer) Bob Avian....has put together a tracing-paper revival that plays as if the long-running show had never stopped running. This is good and not so good....To Avian's credit, he did not try to replicate the look of every member of the original gang of two dozen gypsies auditioning for just eight jobs in the chorus of a new Broadway show. But to our surprise, neither did he always match them in quality."

In awarding 2 1/2 stars, Clive Barnes of the New York Post opines, "It certainly isn't the greatest musical of all time -- but it held a particular place in the hearts of almost all who saw it, partly because of the originality of Bennett's idea and partly because of its theme of everyday effort....What remains is a good reproduction of a great original. But if you've seen it before, you needn't run to see it again."

Will such duplicity impede return visits from the faithful that made A Chorus Line such a hit during its original run, or will their nostalgia for the show bring them back along with countless others who never had an opportunity to see it before? We'll keep a close eye on the upcoming box office totals.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Will Chorus Line Be A Double Sensation? (October 5, 2006)
A Chorus Line Revival Begins Previews Tonight (September 18, 2006)
A Chorus Line's Casting Announced (April 26, 2006)

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