I walked out of Kent State University's Roe Green Center opening night of A Chorus Line suppressing a smirk and the urge to fan kick the whole way home.
Instead, I settled with a spunky walk and a little shoulder shimmy that I hope no one noticed.
I had no idea what to expect from this show, and, to be honest, the image of a chorus line decked out with glitter and glam added as background filler didn't seem all too appealing to me.
But that is exactly where I was wrong. I love when art reveals to me my ill and hastily made judgements.
The stage was mostly bare except a large practice mirror along the back and a white line taped across the floor. There was nothing sparse about this show, however. The stage was constantly lit up by the actor's personas, colorful costumes and lighting that artfully transformed the mood in an instant.
The show began as Zach, played by Jim Weaver, instructs a stage full of nervous and eager dancers through their audition number. One by one, he calls out each dancer's number and they go over the piece for him in small groups. Occasionally, Zach calls one or two of them out for their flaws.
I was really impressed by how good these actors were at messing up. I mean, since this was a performance of an audition, they had to fake that they were doing this for the first time and pretend to bump into each other now and then and have bad form and the like.
Being actors, they have lived this situation in real life many times, but I was still interested by how skillfully the cast acted like, well, themselves. But other versions of themselves. You know what I mean. At any rate, the feeling of awkward nervousness in the hopeful chorus line dancers was palpable.
Especially when Zach brought them to the front of the stage and asked them to talk about themselves. As the rehearsal goes on we learn why these people have come to this profession and some of their struggles as well.
The theme of this show is revealed when Cassie, played by Annie Wessendarp, who has experienced a small amount of fame in her past is singled out by Zach. He asks her why she is trying out for the chorus. "But you're special," he says. To this Cassie replies, "No, we're all special ... I'll take chorus."
The change of this group from a dime a dozen starving artists to a group of unique human beings was emphasized at the end of the show when Zach called out the dancers that were to be hired. This time instead of numbers, he used their names.
Then, the moment I had expected in the beginning — but forgot that I had been expecting — happened. A long line of chorus dancers came out from the wings. One by one, decked out in glitter and glam with legs flying and teeth glowing they appeared. They sang the song they had been rehearsing all day long. A song about the star of the show and how riveting her every move is.
This time they were not background filler. In an electrifying performance, giving the finale all the heart and soul that brought them to risk dancing for a living they were more than special. In that moment they were spectacular.