Review: A Chorus Line, at New York City Center
"Let's do the whole combination facing away from the mirror, from the top! A 5, 6, 7, 8!"
When those now famous words were spoken by Tony Yazbeck as Zach in City Center's gala presentation of A Chorus Line, there was not a person in the theater who didn't erupt into a flurry of applause, accompanied with cheers of excitement. This "singular sensation" is a landmark of musical theater, that helped change Broadway forever, at a time when American culture was drastically changing, especially in midtown.
Different from every other musical, A Chorus Line is unique in its focus on the members of the chorus, giving them the spotlight and allowing them to tell their stories, in the setting of an audition. For it's 75th Anniversary celebration from November 14-18, New York City Center assembled a star studded cast, largely made up of actors who had been in the show before, whether it was the 2006 revival or subsequent national tours.
The entire cast featured Jay Armstrong Johnson (Bobby), Kate Bailey (Kristine), Callan Bergmann (Frank), Natalie Bourgeois (Lois), Tommy Bracco (Mike), Wesley Ian Cappiello (Roy), Max Clayton (Don), Aaron Patrick Craven (Butch), Francine Espiritu, Sara Esty (Maggie), Joseph Fierberg, Emily Franch (Vicki), David Grindrod (Mark), Eddie Gutierrez (Paul), Robyn Hurder (Cassie), Jolina Javier (Connie), Tara Kostmayer (Diana), Denis Lambert (Greg), J. Elaine Marcos (Val), Melanie Moore (Judy), Jenna Nicole Schoen (Tricia), Joseph J. Simeone (Al), Ahmad Simmons (Tom), Ryan Steele (Larry), Naomi C. Walley (Bebe), Anthony Wayne (Richie), Tony Yazbeck (Zach), and Leigh Zimmerman (Sheila).
While there is no true star of the show, Robyn Hurder's portrayal of Cassie is stunning. The emotion she gives across the two hours of the show, is breathtaking in and of itself. Tommy Bracco's rendition of "I Can Do That" was brilliant with his clear voice and excellent dancing. And Tony Yazbeck brought a level of warmth to the otherwise business-like character of Zach.
A Chorus Line should always be playing somewhere in New York. Not only does it humanize the actors we see in ensembles, but it tells the story of everything they go through to simply be standing in that room. It is the true story of the Broadway actor. Not glamorous, not fancy, but difficult, raw, and real.