Dance, 10; Looks, 10: CCM“˜s Chorus Line Gets a Perfect Score

ccm-chorus-lineA Chorus Line and CCM Musical Theatre Program are a perfect match.  These students LIVE these stories. They bring a passion and a pathos that is visceral, making this musical about an audition as true today as it was in 1975, when the show first hit Broadway.  Director Diane Lala“™s cast delivers so many great moments in this show that it is a 10, both for dance and looks.

The story is about performers auditioning for a new dance production, and a director not only pushes them physically, but interviews them to find out just what motivates them to dance.  They are all aware that dance is a short career; twenty-six is considered old, and injury haunts them every day. Many began to dance as an escape, and they reveal that that pain is still part of them, in the very muscles that theep them moving.

The music is also amazing, and Musical Directors Roger Grodsky and Evan Roider help make each song personal and present in this iconic score. Every number delivered.

Costume designer Lindi-Joy Wilmot has captured 1970“™s New York. The high-waisted pants, bell bottoms, striped shirts and dance wear provide a variety of authentic looks that many in the audience recall.  The hair and wigs by Danae R. Jimenez also captured this look; I overheard two ladies discussing they had Val and Bebe“™s hair when they were younger.  While the set is mostly a bare stage with a taped line downstage, there is a big finale and scenic designer Matthew D. Hamel and lighting designer Jeremy Dominik deliver the spectacle.

Director Diane Lala and the cast 110% embrace this show, and fill the characters with believable details, such as how they hold their dance bag or pull their arms into their sleeves.  They speak with their bodies. Their stance reveals who they are:  yearning, feeling people. These characters, and the CCM students who bring them to the stage, have trained all their life to dance, sing and act“”triple threats. Yet despite their talent,  their job now is to keep auditioning, competing with hundreds of others for one role, being cut because they are too short, too flat chested, too whatever, but it has nothing to do with their ability to dance.  Sigh.

This show is a 10. Each dancer can DANCE, with high kicks, great extension, and amazing moves, and each has standout moments. The only thing that is problematic is Cassie“™s “œThe Music and the Mirror.“ Is it a “œdancing for your life“ opportunity or an inner monologue? Either way, it feels stuck in the past.  Is it the music, the mirrors, the choreography, or the performer? You decide, when you see one of the best productions in Cincinnati.

The phenomenal cast includes: Anya Murphy Axel, Kevin Chlapecka, Kyra Christopher, Alec Cohen, Gary Cooper, EJ Dohring, Bailee Endebrock, Zoe Grolnick, Kyle Ivey, Tyler Johnson-Campion, Phillip Johnson Richardson, Derek Kastner, Areo Keller, Christopher Kelley, Brianna Latrash, Daniel Marhelko, Jackson Mattek, Hamilton Moore, Emily Kristen Morris, Kimberly Pine, Bryn Purvis, Paul Schwensen, Frankie Thams, Madelaine Vandenberg, Casey Wenger-Schulman, and Keaton Whittaker.

A Chorus Line plays through October 30.  Tickets can be purchased by calling the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Box Office at 513-556-4183 or going to their website

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