Behind the Dance 

A Chorus Line glitters at Stage Coach Theatre

Stage Coach Theatre's glittering production of A Chorus Line opened November 18, with all the sauce and pizazz you could ask for, Most of the cast of 25 exhibited the fire and earnestness of would-be stars.

Everyone who loves the show's music, such as "One," will leave the theater humming, and the emotional impact of the play will come back to you every time you see a professional musical or movie.

Rick Hoover is the gutsy guy who decided to direct and produce this challenging show, and he found a superb cast, most of whom are competent actors, singers and dancers--not an easy task in unpaid community theater. Hoover's pacing could be a little more aggressive, but will probably improve as the cast settles in for the long (four weekend) run. Projection is also a problem for a couple of critical speeches, but filling a big empty stage is a stretch. The peppy choreography was designed by Jo McCosh, and she fit the dancers' abilities quite imaginatively.

A Chorus Line ran for 15 years on Broadway and won just about every award possible, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, so you know you have high expectations when you attend this show.

It's not your boy-meets-girl type musical at all. It takes place on a bare stage as 24 hopeful dancers audition for a chorus job in a Broadway show. Be warned: There is no intermission, and the play runs two hours and 25 minutes. But the acting is so intense and the stories so compelling that the time flies by.

The script focuses on the lives and experiences of the dancers as they are interviewed by Zach (Frederic Webb) who will be the director and choreographer for the upcoming show. Webb is impressive as the stern no-nonsense director, who still manages to show great compassion and understanding. Dramatic sparks are generated between him and his former girl friend, Cassie (Angela Simitzes), when she tries out for the chorus. Simitzes demonstrates brilliance as an actress and singer, and dominates the stage with her solo, "The Music and the Mirror."

As Zach draws out each dancer's background, the audience begins to feel they know these kids, most of whom claim to be 20 to 25, although we know several are older. There are some amusing stories and some horrifying or sad tales, but underneath them all is the compulsion to perform, whether to become famous stars or to support their families. The knowledge that only four girls and four boys will be hired hangs over the story like a grim reaper.

The glorious finale is all lights, gold and sparkle, with the rejected dancers joining joyously in, somewhat relieving the emotional wringer of the tales of dancers' lives and the hopeless future that faces most of them. This show is a jewel in the crown of the 30th anniversary year of Stage Coach Theatre.

7:30 p.m. on Thur.; 8:15 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 2 p.m. matinee Sun. Through Dec. 10. Tickets $15 Fri.-Sat.; $10 Thur. and Sun. matinees. Stage Coach Theatre, in Hillcrest Plaza. For reservations, call 342-2000.

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