A Chorus Line is back with love letter to Broadway

Feb 25, 2013

Marvin Hamlisch's hit musical celebrates the glitz and grind of showbiz, but has The X Factor spoiled it?

What you need to know
A revival of the Marvin Hamlisch's hit 1975 musical A Chorus Line has opened at the London Palladium. The production is directed by the show's original co-choreographer, Bob Avian. Composer Hamlisch died last year.

A Chorus Line is the story of a group of 17 hopeful young dancers auditioning for a place in the chorus of a Broadway show. Each must tell the director, Zach, something about their lives and ambitions, but only eight will be chosen for the final line-up.

Eastenders star John Partridge appears in the role of director Zach. Scarlett Strallen, from the Palace Theatre's Singing in the Rain, plays his on-again, off-again girlfriend and chorus hopeful Cassie. The show runs until 18 January 2014.

What the critics like
Hamlisch's exuberant love letter to Broadway brilliantly evokes "the glitz and the grind of showbiz", says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. The performances are terrific, and there is "something genuinely moving about the way it gives an individual voice to performers who are normally just part of an anonymous ensemble".

This generous tribute to theatre's unheralded performers is also an "entertaining celebration of physicality", says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. The rhythm of the show is seductive and "the finale is majestic".

There is "tremendous artistry" in A Chorus Line and an admirably serious depiction of the physical and emotional agonies dancers undergo, says Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail. Hamlisch's music combines rousing riffs and "the scorchingly clever song Sing!"

What they don't like
The trouble is that, in recent times, reality TV shows like The X Factor have co-opted A Chorus Line's emotional and narrative turf, says Andrzej Lukowski in Time Out. So what once seemed formally daring "now teeters on the edge of cliché".

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