Singular Sensations: “A Chorus Line” at the Marriott Theatre

You might think that you have to go downtown to see a big spectacle musical, but thanks to the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, there’s thrilling singing and dancing to be enjoyed right here in the suburbs.

Known for its Broadway revivals, the Marriott has mounted “A Chorus Line,” which—at a reasonable two and a half hours with a 15-minute intermission—draws on Broadway talent to tell the story of a group of dancers and their daylong audition. It’s a show that will make you laugh, cry and maybe even think.

Mara Davi, a Broadway veteran who appeared in the original revival of this show, plays the lead role of Cassie, singing and dancing athletically on the bare black stage in a sultry red leotard. Hers is just one example of the strong voices, reminiscent of the original Broadway cast recording, in this production directed by Mark Lococo.

chorusline2The acting is also impressive: Bryan Knowlton, also from the Broadway revival, delivers a dramatic, tear-jerking monologue about his childhood, on top of performing the challenging choreography by Rachel Rockwell.

The major drawback of the show is that the theater is in the round—normally a plus, because all seats are close. But in this staging, half the audience often ends up looking at an actor’s toned butt (so, not entirely unpleasant) for most of the big solos, when you want to soak up every emotional minute. Transparent mirrors that descend from the ceiling alleviate the problem only somewhat.

The show, which features mature themes such as sexuality, will especially appeal to performing arts buffs, be they adults or teenagers. And, thanks to the recession, many can relate to the challenges that the dancers face in the fickle world of show business. The question the director poses will ring familiar: “What will you do when you can’t dance anymore?”