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"A Chorus Line" opens the season at New Candlelight Dinner Theatre
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By Greer Firestone

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Kelsey McDowell
By Greer Firestone
Sept. 16, 2013 1:36 p.m.

When "A Chorus Line" opened in 1975 it was a ground breaking event, going on to become now the 6th longest running musical ever. It both triggers and wraps the raison d'etre for every stage performer in the world - perhaps every artist of every genre -  in one song, "What I Did For Love". This Broadway anthem was written by Marvin Hamlisch and sung at New Candlelight by (Morales) Kelly Boeckle. (Edith Piaf sang a mind bending parallel refrain with "Je ne Regrette, Rien").  Boeckle, btw, delighted audiences in last season's spellblonding "Legally Blond".

At an audition for an upcoming Broadway production, dancers are put on their heels by a request from the intimidating choreographer Zach ( played with a defined edge by Robert Miller, who has a number of national tours to his own credit and who exhibited formidable dancing chops). Zach wants to learn more about them and asks the dancers to introduce themselves. With reluctance, they reveal their pasts.

The most poignant was that of (Paul) Rick Fontas. Considering this was written in the early '70's, it was even more difficult being gay, especially attending an all boys Catholic high school. Haltingly, Paul speaks to this and the coming to terms of his own manhood and homosexuality. Fontas' soliloquy brought not a few audience members to tears and subsequent applause by all.

There are few solos in the show. (Val) Elissa Zavodnick makes her debut at NCT with a red-blooded and humorous homage to her new bosom and derriere in "Dance: Ten; Looks, Three...(T & A)."

Zach had had a previous intimate relationship with one of the dancers (Cassie) Kaylan Wetzel, creating an undercurrent of sexual tension between the two. She had been a lead dancer but had been not been prominent for a time. Zach feels a 'chorus line' to be beneath her. Cassie wishes to 'come home' to the line. This is life imitating art. Wetzel has been out of the theatre scene for a number of months. Huzzahs to her for a dazzling solo sequence "The Music and the Mirror" after giving birth only 6 months ago.

Regarding the entire show, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Unlike the majority of the productions last season, no one performer stood out above the ensemble. One name did stand out...Achilles Inverso. (And I thought I had a cool name!) But yet, perhaps in its entirety that is what "A Chorus Line" is about. In the final number, "One", each dancer takes a final bow not in their motley audition clothes, but in identical gold spangled costumes, making it difficult to distinguish them. Each individual now becomes a member of the anonymous 'chorus line'. Choreographer Jodi Anderson was demandingly tight and rigidly precise; quite an achievement with such a large ensemble of quite varying abilities.

While we're on the subject of spangles, it is so wonderful to see legendary costumer Linda Reilly back at NCT.  Decades of sewing, beading, performing and directing at Three Bakers and now returning here. Linda has been deemed "The Queen of Velcro"!

Two random notes: Dear sister Liz suggested the buffet line was the best she has attended over the past few years. And, NCT needs to update their web site.

Through November 3.  NCTStage.org  302.475.2313

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