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THEATER REVIEW: San Diego Musical Theatre hoofs it up with “A Chorus Line”

Those high-stepping wannabe Broadway hoofers are back, submitting in public to the humiliation of auditions and nosy questions in the hope of making it big – or at least making the rent – on the Great White Way.

San Diego Musical Theatre presents “A Chorus Line” though June 12 at the Lyceum Theatre in Horton Plaza.

Winner of nine Tonys and for a short time holder of the record for the longest-running musical on Broadway (it was replaced by “Cats,” whose record later fell to “Phantom of the Opera”), “A Chorus Line” takes us inside the audition process for a new Broadway show.

Aspirants range from the pathologically shy Paul (Gabriel Villanueva) to the blasé Sheila (Leslie Stevens) to the desperate-for-a-job Cassie (Alexis Carra). But all of them “hope I get this job” and many of them will tell their stories when director Zach (Carlos Martin) gets on that god mike and asks them to.

You’ll hear the standard stories you’d hear in a psychologist’s office – or a classroom: Mike discovered that “I can do that” when he went to dance class with his older sister; Sheila (Leslie Stevens) hoped to escape her unpleasant home life “at the ballet.”

The idea of watching auditions is a mildly interesting concept, and given the awards this show has won, it’s apparent that many people really want to know what kind of person is willing to sacrifice almost anything to be on that stage.

Unfortunately, that group does not include me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through enough auditions of my own. In any case, I find Marvin Hamlisch’s music forgettable, the repetitive structure of the show tiresome, the characters tinged with soap opera.

But don’t let that dissuade you. You’ve probably seen this show at least once – and this is a perfectly good production of the show that ran nearly 15 years on Broadway, featuring several Broadway and national tour veterans, a serviceable rehearsal hall set lined with mirrors and a fine (though overloud) orchestra. And Robert Marra directs with a sure hand.

Carra wrings the pathos out of down-on-her-luck Cassie’s plight. Megan Campanile’s Maggie is properly spunky.

Jill Townsend wrings all the wry humor out of Val’s “Dance: 10, Looks: 3” (aka the “tits and ass” song), though she doesn’t exactly look the part. Davidson is amusing as Bobby, whose parents “had more money than taste.”

With a cast of 25 and a 16-piece orchestra, this is the biggest show ever mounted by spunky little SDMT. In fact, it is only the seventh show they’ve ever done.

If hoofers in action are your thing, “A Chorus Line” awaits at the Lyceum Theatre.

The details

San Diego Musical Theatre’s production of “A Chorus Line” plays through June 12 at the Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza.

Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.

For tickets call (858) 560-5740 or visit HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.