Veteran director, performers keep 'Chorus Line' kicking at Lyric Opera House


November 27, 1991|By Mike Giuliano

Is there any reason why "A Chorus Line" won't still be playing somewhere in the world in the 21st century? Having set a record as the longest running Broadway show with its amazing New York run from 1975 to 1990, this landmark musical is still generating globe-trotting touring productions.

The company that opened at a nearly full Lyric Opera House last night marks the fifth time this self-described "singular sensation" of a musical has played Baltimore. Directed and choreographed for this tour by Baayork Lee, who originated the role of Connie on Broadway, the latest edition of the Michael Bennett-conceived show features a number of performers who are themselves "Chorus Line" veterans.

If their hyper-familiarity with the show sometimes translates to too little spontaneous kick and confessional fervor, they're still consummate professionals who deliver the goods.

By now, presumably every theater-going Baltimorean knows what makes this musical kick however many times one has seen it (four times in my case). Managing to be both simple and sophisticated, "Chorus Line" presents 24 dancers trying out for a Broadway show. Because the demanding choreographer for whom they are auditioning wants to know about their personal lives as well as their dance moves, the defensive layers of these performers are peeled away until we see their souls as well as their soles. In presenting their collective stories, "Chorus Line" is not about stage door romances so much as about the eternal romance of the stage door itself.

Among the standouts in this tight ensemble are Wanda Richert-Preston, whose Cassie epitomizes the gotta-dance Broadway spirit in "The Music and the Mirror"; Gail Benedict as the aggressively beautiful Sheila; Deborah Geneviere as Diana, who brings just the right plaintive tone to "Nothing"; and Philip Michael Baskerville as the high-stepping Richie, whose assertive kicks reach for the lofty proscenium arch of the Lyric, where "A Chorus Line" remains through Dec. 8. For ticket information call (410) 625-1400.

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