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A Chorus Line - Drew Anthony Creative

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

Reviewed by Kate O'Sullivan


Editor Note: Subsequent to the publishing of this review, we have been made aware that the production team, in consultation with Concord Theatrical, have cast a performer in the role of Richie. It should therefore be noted that this review was written prior to the updated casting, as some comments below may no longer apply. Please also note that this review also includes additional comments that were added on 7 August 2023 to provide some additional context.

Set on the bare stage of a Broadway-style theatre, A Chorus Line provides a glimpse into the personalities of performers, as they talk, sing and dance through the events that have shaped their lives and their decisions to become dancers. This version, produced and presented by Drew Anthony has brought an excellent cast of dancers to the Planet Royale stage to embody these stories and to give audiences a peek behind the makeup, glitz and glamour.

There are some wonderful performances in this production, which gives spotlight moments to almost the entire cast. Elethea Sartorelli is a wonderful, sassy, Sheila, and her moments of vulnerability and interactions with Allen Blatchford’s Bobby are a lovely undercurrent within the show itself. Lucy Goodrick’s Val is the perfect balance of lovable and hateable, while Morgan Cowling balances Cassie’s range of emotions exceptionally. G. Madison IV gives us a different Zach from the one we usually see but plays both the stereotypical director and the empathetic sides of the character wonderfully. There was clearly race-blind casting for the role of Zach (G Madison IV is Black), giving us a Zach with a different energy, and taking a B.I.P.O.C. performer out of the role they might typically be boxed into in this show.

The staging of this show is of particular note. From the slow-paced gentle curtain warming, in the form of a literal warm-up to the final moments before the finale, the stage was used to its full effect. The use of the audience space for Zach to weave in and out of, as well as the moments of monologuing by the piano gave us the real sense of real people in the audition space. There are a couple of moments where performers are upstaging themselves and we lose some of their emotional power because we can’t see their faces, but in general, we get a good insight into each character's emotional journey.

The minimal set (large box, piano, four mirrors, and line on the stage) allowed the full depth of the stage to be used to pull us in and out of different emotional moments throughout the show. It should be noted that the mirrors are not true mirrors, probably much to the relief of the lighting technicians, and do create some unfortunate distorted reflections at some points in the show. In general, however, the set is very much used to its full potential, with projections really adding to the environmental storytelling as the backdrop. The lighting is well done, transitioning us between the internal and external monologues of the performers well, although there are a few dark spots in the general front wash (a difficult thing to avoid on a stage as wide as the one at Planet Royale). The costuming is also beautifully timeless and is believably the attire of any audition hopeful.

Rather than employing a band, this rendition has chosen to use backing tracks. Whilst masterfully used through some numbers, there were moments where it would have been nice to see the tempo be able to be pulled around to allow us to feel the emotions of some of the characters a little further. This was particularly notable in both “At The Ballet” and “Nothing” which, while well sung, felt rushed through in parts, as the performers kept time with the tracks.

On the other hand, the use of the backing tracks allowed the dance numbers in this show to sing. From the large ensemble numbers like the “Montages” and “One”, to the almost-solo that is “The Music and the Mirror”, all of the dances have been drilled to perfection. With a cast of well-trained dancers, choreographer Jessica Ashton and director Drew Anthony have finely tuned the staging and choreography so that even when the entire cast is weaving in and out of each other, they move with perfect precision, ease and grace.

With a tight-knit ensemble cast, it was notable that there were a couple of characters removed from this version of the show. Removing the role of Larry (the director's assistant) has been seen before, as their role is combined into the role of Zach, which works well in this production. However, the exclusion of the role of Richie, the enthusiastic black dancer who sings "Gimme The Ball", removes the main Black character, who was a composite of the various Black performers who were involved in the creation of the show itself. While I'm sure it was a difficult task to find triple threat performers in Perth who would be willing and able to fill this role, it is disappointing in 2023 to not hear and see these B.I.P.O.C. perspectives on the stage, especially when the show was developed from real B.I.P.O.C. lived experiences.

Overwhelmingly though, this is a show to see. You'll take a peek behind the curtain and see what those in the performing arts industry go through - the highs, the lows, the confidence, the fears, the victories and the defeats. You can feel the performers' drawing on their own lives and their love of these characters and their experiences. Join the line, as seats for this one will fly out the door for sure.

The core company of A Chorus Line. Image supplied by Drew Anthony Creatives.

Reviewer Note: Kate has previously stage managed at the Planet Royale Theatre during FringeWorld 2022. Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.


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