Newsday: ‘A Chorus Line’ kicks up its heels at Engeman

Truth be told, I wasn’t looking forward to seeing “A Chorus Line” for the who’s-counting?th time.
Besides the refuse-to-quit winter, I was ruminating about what could possibly make “A Chorus
Line” fresh again.
Well, start by knocking it out of the park. The metaphor is apt. When reminded of how fragile a
dancer’s future is, one of the hoofers remarks, “We’re like athletes.” Careers fade with youth or
flame out with injury.
At the start, 21 dancers are auditioning for a Broadway musical in 1975. After the director
(James Ludwig as compassionate control-freak Zach) drills them through the opening “I Hope I
Get It” number, four are eliminated. The remaining 17 are informed that there are just eight
openings — four boys, four girls. But first, Zach wants to know something about their lives
Mike (an eager Eric Greengold) leads off with a confession: He got into dance by tagging along
with Sis and showing her “I Can Do That.” Others chime in, especially Andrew Metzgar as Misfit
Gay Son of Sports-Worshipping Dad. Sheila (Kelly Sheehan with cocky chips on each slender
shoulder), Bebe (Courtney Moran) and Maggie (Abby Church) relate variations of family
dysfunction in relating why they were only happy “At the Ballet.”
Rachel Marie Bell and DJ Petrosino, as married auditioneers, charmingly finish each other’s
phrases. Paul, played by Omar Garibay with a please-don’t-call-on-me cringe, gets a private
audience with Zach, who, in turn, demands one with Cassie, his ex-girlfriend who he believes is
overqualified. Jessica Lee Goldyn, in this more mature role, shows why she earned praise as
Val in the 2006 Broadway revival. She dances for her life in a brave solo that, ironically, may
prove Zach’s point. Although she says her character can’t act, Goldyn, indeed, can.
As Val, who flaunts her cosmetic enhancement, Stephanie Israelson evens the score in “Dance:
Ten; Looks: Three.” Maria Cristina Slye as Diana, felt “Nothing” in acting class before turning to
“What I Did for Love.”
Dance is what they all did it for, lovingly choreographed by Dena DiGiacinto, who was featured
in the Broadway revival, and directed by Drew Humphrey to James Olmstead’s orchestra, doing
honor to the late Marvin Hamlisch’s energetic, emotive score.
Collectively, they have us caring about what happens to each one individually, beyond who gets
hired and who doesn’t.
I almost didn’t mind driving home in an unrelenting spring snowstorm.
WHAT “A Chorus Line”
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through
May 10, John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, 250 Main St.

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