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Rockville Musical Theatre A Chorus Line

By • Jul 10th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
A Chorus Line
Rockville Musical Theatre
F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, Rockville, MD
Through July 22nd
2:00 with intermission
$20/$18 Seniors/$16 Students
Reviewed July 6th, 2012

Very few things symbolize the American dream better than packing up one’s entire life and setting off for New York City in search of fame, fortune, and glory. Combine that with the irresistible allure of the bright lights of Broadway, and you get the recipe for a unique brand of passion that drives legions of hopefuls to brave nigh insurmountable odds and pursue their dreams. As Americans we’re all used to the rags-to-riches rhetoric fed to us since childhood, but there is a harsh reality that lurks behind the glamour. Those who pursue the “big time” often suffer years of rejection only to discover that it may never happen. Nevertheless the starry-eyed dreamers hike up their tights, swallow their pride, and pour their all into their art. For that, they will always have my undying respect.

Dealing with troubled pasts and the challenges of pursuing the spotlight are the key themes of Michael Bennett’s classic musical A Chorus Line. With dialogue based on the experiences of real performers and an iconic score by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban, A Chorus Line tells the story of seventeen dancers all auditioning for an unnamed Broadway show directed by Zach – an obsessive perfectionist with something to prove. Being very particular about his cast, Zach forces each auditioner to open up about their childhoods, their puberty, and what drives them to dance. What ensues is a two-hour exploration of motivation, identity, and psychology – all framed with great music and glorious dancing. Rockville Musical Theatre’s production offers everything I’ve ever loved about this show with passion and energy.

Director Anya Randall Nebel has put together an entertaining and heartwarming production that pays homage to everything that makes this show wonderful. Vincent Musgrave’s choreography, while not astounding, is pleasant to watch and contains numerous refreshing reinterpretations of the choreography so often associated with this show. The highlights of the technical elements for me were the orchestra and vocal arrangements – both under the masterful musical direction of John Michael d’Haviland. His arrangement of the show’s most recognizable tune, “What I Did For Love,” was chilling and breathed fresh life into a song that has become somewhat hackneyed over the last generation.

The cast is full of vibrant, talented people all performing at the top of their game. The dulcet-voiced Mark Hamberger was adorable as the hapless Al and played extremely well off of Catherine Oh in a hilarious turn as Al’s tone-deaf wife Kristine. PJ Mitchell deftly tackled one of the toughest monologues in musical theatre as the tragic Paul. Cody Cooley was enjoyable as Mike, but I was very disappointed that he didn’t wear tap shoes during one of the most iconic tap numbers ever (even though it was plain to see that Mr. Cooley had the tap chops). Laurie Newton had the whole house laughing as Val, an acerbic firecracker with major body-image issues.

The cast had its ups and downs, but there were two who stood out to me as breakout stars. With polish, panache, and one hell of a voice, Taurean Barber’s Richie was incredible. Mr. Barber’s extensive training was evident in every move he made and he was clearly one of the strongest dancers of the group. Without a doubt, my favorite performance of the evening was Kimberly Murphy’s feisty Puerto Rican Diana. Ms. Murphy expertly ran the gamut between hilarious and heartbreaking and was electrifying throughout. This being her first community theatre appearance, I very much look forward to seeing more of her on DC area stages.

The show runs two hours with a 15 minute intermission. With a bit of strong language and some adult themes here and there, this is not a show for little ones. On the whole, I would’ve liked to have seen a crisper cohesion among the dancers, but their hard work was plain to be seen. My hat is emphatically tipped to anyone who can dance their heart out for two hours straight and retain the ability to breathe normally. Rockville Musical Theatre’s production of A Chorus Line is one not to be missed if you’re looking for fun summer entertainment.

The Cast:

  • Cassie Ferguson: Alicia Sweeney
  • Sheila Bryant: Christina Addabbo Prete
  • Valerie Clark: Laurie Newton
  • Diana Morales: Kimberly Murphy
  • Judy Turner: Karen Toth
  • Kristine Urich: Catherine Oh
  • Maggie Winslow: Rikki Howie
  • Bebe Benzenheimer: Erica Ferguson
  • Connie Wong: Kylie Cooley
  • Tricia: Sofia Cabrales
  • Vicki: Leanne Frenkel
  • Lois: Stephanie Finkenstaedt
  • Mike Costa: Cody Cooley
  • Richie Walters: Taurean Barber
  • Don Kerr: Daniel Paredez
  • Paul San Marco: PJ Mitchell
  • Mark Anthony: Robbie Dinsmore
  • Gregory Gardner: Duane Monahan
  • Bobby Mills III: Jimmy Biertanowski
  • Alan DeLuca: Mark Hamberger
  • Larry: Ramon Munoz
  • Zach: Jivon Jackson
  • Roy: Julius Williams
  • Headband Boy: Aaron Lempert
  • Cut Dancer: Willie Garner

The Orchestra

  • Conductor/Keyboard: J. Michael d’Haviland
  • Keyboard: Marci Shegogue
  • Reeds: Gwyn Jones, Katrina Ambrose, Blake Rose
  • Trumpets: Paul Weiss, Mark Allred, Curt Nette
  • Trombone: Olin Nettles
  • Bass: Randy Dahlberg
  • Percussion: Joel Frisch
  • Drums: Jim Hoffman

The Production Staff

  • Producer: Malca Giblin
  • Director: Anya Randall Nebel
  • Musical Director: J. Michael d’Haviland
  • Assistant Director: J. Michael d’Haviland
  • Choreographer: Vincent Musgrave
  • Costume Designer: Anya Randall Nebel
  • Stage Manager: Noam Lautman
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Sharon Addabbo
  • Technical Director: Daniel Tobiassen
  • Set Designer: William T. Fleming
  • Lighting Co-Designers: Dana Sato, Helen Garcia-Alton
  • Light Board Operator: Helen Garcia-Alton
  • Follow Spot Operator: Dylan Stieber
  • Sound Designer: Daniel Tobiassen
  • Audio Engineer: Sam Horwich
  • Audio Prompter –Maija Mikkelsen
  • Set Construction/Painting: Nancy Carlin, Tony Dwyer, William T. Fleming, Malca Giblin, Sam Horwich, Darrick Householder, William Kolodrubetz, Maija Mikkelsen, Dana Sato, Daniel Tobiassen
  • Running Crew: Sharon Addabbo, Malca Giblin, Ellen Ryan
  • Audition Assistants: Sharon Addabbo, Nancy Carlin, Christal Taylor
  • Program Photographer: Mark McLaughlin
  • House Manager: Jonathan Cagle-Mulberg
  • Program: Den and Malca Giblin

Disclaimer: Rockville Musical Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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, a native of Frederick, MD, has been heavily involved in every single facet of theatre for the majority of his life. He has been seen on stages in Frederick, Charles Town, WV, Kensington, MD, Greenbelt, MD, Gettysburg, PA, and many others. A two-time WATCH Award nominee, Eric has over 80 shows to his credit and is a double-graduate of Frederick County's Arts and Communications Academy in music and theatre. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Maryland and currently lives in Frederick.

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