A Chorus Line
Tyne Mill Volvo Theatre
27th May 2015
One! Chorus line of people
Dancin’ til they make us stop
Too! Many dancin’ people
Covered in blood, gore and glop
Just one sniff of that fog and you’re inside out
It’s worse than that flesh-eating virus you’ve read about
The above lyrics appeared in a Simpsons Treehouse of Horror many years ago to the tune of ‘One’, the show-stopping anthem from A Chorus Line. Until last night, the fact it inspired a song in which various Springfield residents shed their skin was the extent of my knowledge on this multi award-winning musical about the shared struggles and private battles of a Broadway chorus line to be. I expected some low-level bitching and a few barbs at the theatre world within an ultimately uplifting crowd-pleaser. But this production directed by Ben Hunt for Nice Swan showed there was a lot more going on behind the glitz and glamour.
The scathingly dark commentary on professional bitterness and quashed dreams was brought to life by Nice Swan’s glorious ensemble of talented hoofers. Special mention must go to the elegant Lauren Gordon as failed star Cassie and Nikki Cunningham whose sultry stares as Sheila soon won over the crowd. The show also boasts a number of memorable and witty tunes; perhaps most famously the desperate ‘I Hope I Get It’ and the soft lilting ‘What I Did For Love’, while on the comic side we had the skilfully played off-key moments from Charlotte Casey as Kristine in ‘Sing!’ and not least ‘Nothing’ in which Tara Sweeting as Diana vented her frustration at ‘bull-***t’ drama games with very believable gusto.
As well as directing the show Ben Hunt also appears as on (or mostly off)stage as Zach, the director auditioning the hopeful troupe. This is a tough ask and not one that worked entirely, as his chemistry with the other actors seemed distant and stilted. This was particularly noticeable with the character of Cassie as they’re meant to ‘have history’. In fact, as good as individual songs were, there was a sense the ensemble didn’t gel together and certain characters needed some work. This is a shame in a show which is built upon