June 17--The dancing is truly the star in "A Chorus Line" at Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre.
The production, directed by Charles Richter, is filled with talented dancers, all of whom are students or graduates of Muhlenberg College.
It's a daunting show that requires nearly nonstop dancing, and no intermission. But none of the cast members seemed winded.
A truly inside show, the story puts the audience in the viewpoint of a director auditioning 17 dancers for eight spots in a Broadway show. The story, originally staged in 1975, still resonates and feels fresh in the Muhlenberg production. You feel these people could be auditioning on a Broadway stage today.
The dancers are told they have to fit seamlessly in the chorus line but are also asked to open up about their lives and feelings for the chance of getting a spotlight part.
It is these vignettes -- as performers address their pasts and dreams, all in the course of an audition -- that makes the framework of the show.
Robert Torres plays the director Zach as gruff but not unkind. He also demonstrated he can hoof it with the best of them.
The show opens with "I Hope I Get it" -- the performers' hopeful paean to maintaining a positive outlook. The number is expertly choreographed with performers not all matching perfectly and some even intentionally making mistakes.
Tyler Holoboski makes an appealing Mike, and his "I Can Do That" is delivered with warmth as well as top-notch dance moves.
Sheila (played by Julia Garber), Bebe (Sarah Biren) and Maggie (Molly Karlin) were poignant and harmonic in "At the Ballet" backed by the rest of the cast. It was the only point at which Sheila was not simmering with attitude.
Diana, played by Angela DeAngelo, was fearless and funny in her rendition of "Nothing" done in the middle of an empty stage -- no small feat.
As Val, Chelsea Montgomery-Duban made "Dance: Ten, Looks: Three," sizzle giving the character a little bit of an insightful edge.
For "Sing" Ryan Skerchak showed a well-toned voice and impeccable timing. Zoe Briggs nailed the challenging job of making Kristine purposely off-key.
Emily Phillips was entrancing as Cassie when she demonstrated her considerable dancing prowess in "The Music and the Mirror."
Kevin Kulp is moving as Paul, who struggles to open up about his painful past.
Other standouts among a stellar cast were Bryan Dougherty as an energetic Bobby, Paula Chang as a self-effacing Connie, Jakeim Hart as the enthusiastic Richie and Henry Evans as the youthful and confused Mark.
All the ensemble numbers, including "Hello Twelve," "What I did for Love" and "One," were well-executed. The finale of "One" was completely satisfying.
The stripped-down set has a line of tape across the stage and, for some scenes, mirrors that turned around, giving the effect of a rehearsal studio. Then there's a flashier backdrop for the finale.
-- "A Chorus Line," 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through June 29, Muhlenberg College, Baker Center, Empie Theatre, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. Tickets: $39, $33; $36, $29, seniors; $20, $18, students. Info: 484-664-3693, muhlenberg.edu/SMT.
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