Kiss Today Goodbye

   A chorus line is more than just the sum of its parts. It’s composed of fiercely talented and determined triple threats ready to make their marks on the theatrical world.

   No musical illustrates this particular breed of performer quite like A Chorus Line, onstage at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through February 2. Featuring music by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban, the show has become a cornerstone of Amercian musical theater since its debut in 1975. It is, after all, the quintessential musical about musicals.

Elizabeth Earley, Jennifer Byrne, Logan Keslar, Michelle Petrucci, Anne Bloemendal and DeMarius R. Copes flash their ’70s headshots. Photo by Alicia Donelan

   The Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s rendition remains true to the original. The setting: a Broadway audition. The year: a bell bottom-rich 1975. The stars: an amalgam of twentysomethings eager to make it big. Each is asked one important question: Why did you choose this life? Their responses lead to a whirlwind of emotions conveyed through monologues, solos, duets, kick lines and pirouettes.

   Let’s start with the choreography, for what is A Chorus Line without spectacular choreography? And it is spectacular. Director and Choreographer Josh Walden infuses the familiar moves with a palpable freneticism, augmented by smart formations and demanding combinations. Walden wisely directs his cast to remember that this is an audition; your character is not 100-percent familiar with these steps, so don’t allow them to be perfect. Catching these moments of planned imperfection is an egg hunt of a treat for the audience.

   Of course, there are numbers when the dancing is as clean and smooth as a brand new Porsche. As fading starlet Cassie, Elizabeth Earley delivers a solo dance break bursting with angst and energy. She gallops across the bare stage, filling it from curtain to curtain with beautiful movements. The evening I attended, the audience simply could not contain its applause

Elizabeth Earley as Cassie performs the solo “The Music and the Mirror.” Photo by Janie Willison

   Other notable numbers include “Hello 12, Hello 13, Hello Love,” an ode to adolescence that tests not only the cast’s talent but its endurance as well. Made up of layers of speech, song and dance, the piece blossoms with each change in tempo. “Dance: 10, Looks: Three,” performed by Val (Becca Andrews), offers a fun change of pace, while the famous “What I Did for Love” is the perfect bittersweet cherry on top of a thrilling production.

   As Diana, Camden Gonzales steals the show vocally. Her two songs, “Nothing” and the aforementioned “What I Did for Love,” illustrate a prowess in both comedic and dramatic performance. As a whole, however, I found the vocals to be slightly subpar to the dancing, especially in “At the Ballet,” a beautifully sad carousel of a song that just somehow misses the mark.

Jordan Fife Hunt as Paul (left) and DeMarius R. Copes as Richie (right). Photo by Alicia Donelan

   A musical about triple threats is not complete without some stellar acting. As the feminine and reserved Paul, Jordan Fife Hunt delivers the best monologue of the entire production, filled with nuance and a vulnerability that makes you feel his story as deeply as if it were your own. On the flipside of the dramatic mask, Logan Keslar kills as the quirky Bobby in a brief but memorable bit of dialogue that weaves within a larger chorus number.

   The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is known for its musicals—just ask the Carbonell Award voters. So, it comes as no surprise that it excels at producing a musical about musicals. A Chorus Line is the perfect show for the blossoming thespian and seasoned starlet alike, and this particular production is infused with a tenderness not often associated with show business. Besides, who doesn’t get a kick out of a good kick line?

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