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A CHORUS LINE presented by Cincinnati Landmark Productions at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts through Sept. 27. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening Sunday performance.
For me, what makes or breaks a production of A CHORUS LINE is the dance ability of the cast. Far too often I’ve seen productions that are “Dance 3: Looks 3,” if you get my meaning. (And it you don’t, it’s a reference to the show, go see it.) That is NOT the case with the Covedale’s production. Here, the majority of the performers have dance training under their belts, and it shows.
Choreographer Angela Kahle takes full advantage of her talent pool. The dance numbers as a whole are nicely staged, visually strong and build naturally. It is also evident that the cast has worked very hard to master the routines. Great job, and I hope to see more of Kahle’s work on stage soon.
Director Matthew Wilson does well in defining the characters and hitting the right emotional beats. The interaction between Paul (Ben Goodman) and Zack (Matt Dentino) after the former’s monologue was very nicely handled. To me, a monologue or two felt confined by its lack of movement. The actors seemed rooted to one place.
The ensemble did well in creating interesting and unique characters. Favorites included Matt Dentino as Zack, Afton Shepard as Val & Jules Shumate as Sheila. Cassie’s (Hannah Aicholtz) dance solo in “Music and the Mirror” is a highlight of the show. My favorite numbers included “At the Ballet,” the “Montage” and “What I Did for Love.” I also enjoyed “Dance 10: Looks 3,” but from my seat, Val tended to blend into the fully lit ensemble behind her. Taking the lights down and giving her a spot would help showcase her during that number.
The only issue I had with the sound was that several times the soloists mics were not up in time to hear their lines. Speaking of solo lines, on the performing side actors need to make sure they draw focus to themselves during them. As an audience member, playing “solo, solo, who’s singing the solo” can be frustrating. During “Sing,” be sure to hit those starting constants so the audience can understand the word you’re singing. Finally a couple of the soloists seemed to have trouble supporting some of their high notes.
The casts’ dance attire was nicely diverse and fit the personalities of the characters. The custom-fit, gold finale costumes constructed by Caren Young were impressive and looked great together on stage.
Overall, strong ensemble; strong direction; strong dance and choreography. Well-done all.
My rating: 4.25 out of 5.
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