Two Minutes' Traffic: A Chorus Line, Signature Theatre

Audiences are crazy about A Chorus Line, and have been since its creation. There's a magical alchemy to the show, forged from a series of conversations with a roomful of dancers (many of whom either became part of the ensemble or whose stories became part of the show) that have likewise become legend. The show spawned awards, record-breaking runs, a poorly regarded movie, a coffee-table book, a documentary, a revival, and now numerous regional theatre productions. Over the years, now that hundreds of actors have embodied the dancers on the audition line at thousands of theatres, many things have remained constant beyond the book and the score: the poses the dancers strike on the line, iconic costumes, and the choreography, originally by Michael Bennett, meticulously recreated each time.

The cast of ‘A Chorus Line’ at Signature Theatre. Photo by Christopher Mueller.

Matthew Gardiner's production for the Signature Theatre, by contrast, gets to tread some new ground, while still retaining pops of the familiar. Sarah Cubbage's costumes get to leave behind some of the cropped sweatshirts and the familiar TKTS shirt, but Cassie still has her red leotard and ballet skirt. Denis Jones has created new choreography, but the big moments of that finale are still the same. And of course, the mirrors still descend for Cassie's solo in Jason Sherwood's set design.

It's an interesting mix of old and new, but most striking is the way in which regional theatre so often lets us revel in brilliant turns by actors we love and feel invested in, show after show. Maria Rizzo as Sheila feels like the real gem of the production, from her death glares to Adena Ershow's Val during the opening sequences, to watching her struggle to sing through tears during "What I Did for Love" once the company joins Samantha Marisol Gershman's Diana. We all know Rizzo is good, but watching her in those final moments on the line feels like a revelation, which isn't what we expect to find during such a familiar, reliable show. It's certainly a good reminder of why we keep coming back, however, and a treat for everyone lucky enough to see this show.


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