music by Marvin Hamlisch lyrics by Edward Kleban book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante.

The London Palladium 8 Argyll Street W1F 7TF To 13 July 2013.
Mon–Sat 7.45pm Mat Wed & Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr No interval.

TICKETS: 0844 412 4655.
Review: William Russell 19 February.

All done by mirrors.
This revival of the 1975 Broadway show about dancers auditioning to perform in a chorus line – it was last seen in London at Drury Lane in 1976 – is most efficiently done, but lacks the spark of life despite the abundance of talent on stage.

The problem is that it has been restaged by Bob Avian, who co-choreographed the original, Michael Bennett-directed, production in what amounts to carbon-copy style. It was Bennett’s staging, innovative and inspired, rather than the score which made it one of the great Broadway musicals. Not that it is a bad score.

Today what was fresh in 1975 is stale and the story line – young people auditioning for the chorus are subjected to a most peculiar inquisition by Zach the director, mostly an off-stage voice, about their private lives – is now banal rather than revelatory. We are also never interested in who will get the jobs as it is never in doubt.

While the cast are dancing in front of a wall of mirrors the show is wonderful to watch, but when they start talking things sag. However, Leigh Zimmerman as Sheila, the obligatory 30-something statuesque blonde chorine with a line in wisecracks and no illusions, is a joy. When she is on stage, which is most of the time, one looks at nobody else.

Scarlett Strallen as Cassie, failed star and ex-girlfriend of the director seeking a job in the chorus, delivers her big number, ‘The Music and the Mirror’, with vocal aplomb. But it is a dance number and, in spite of being reflected a myriad times in mirrors, she is not all that exciting.

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt sings the big Act Two ballad, ‘What I Did for Love’, beautifully but she seems to come from nowhere so underwritten is her role. As for the finale, when, reduced to ciphers in gold lamé evening dress and toppers, everyone troops on to sing ‘One Singular Sensation’, what ought to enthral proves to be just one more familiar routine, as sent up at the start of Family Guy.

Judy: Lucy Jane Adcock.
Trisha: Georgie Ashford.
Bobby: Ed Currie.
Kristine: Frances Dee.
Butch: Segun Fawole.
Mark: Harry Francis.
Diana: Victoria Hamilton-Barritt.
Vicki: Katy Hards.
Al: Simon Hardwick.
Val: Rebecca Herszenhorn.
Richie: James T Lane.
Roy: Marc Leslie.
Bebe: Daisy Maywood.
Lois: Alice Jane Murray.
Zach: John Partridge.
Larry: Alastair Polstlethwaite.
Greg: Andy Rees.
Mike: Adam Salter.
Connie: Alexzandra Sarmiento.
Tom: Michael Steedon.
Cassie: Scarlett Strallen.
Maggie: Vicki Lee Taylor.
Frank: Jon Tsouras.
Don: Gary Watson.
Paul: Gary Wood.
Sheila: Leigh Zimmerman.
Swings: Rebecca Giacopazzi, Genevieve Nicole, Ashley Nottingham.

Director: Bob Avian.
Designer: Robin Wagner.
Lighting: Tharon Musser adapted by: Natasha Katz.
Sound: Nick Lidster, Terry Jardine for Autograph.
Musical Supervisor: Patrick Vaccariello.
Musical Director: Alan Williams.
Choreographer (re-staging) Baayork Lee.
Costume: Theoni V Aldredge.

2013-02-20 11:26:28

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