Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Chorus Line review by Dana Bever of Sauquoit

I recently had the opportunity to see "A Chorus Line" at the Stanley Theatre. This was unlike any musical I had seen before. There was no intermission, not only because of the length of the show, but I believe it was also to not interrupt the intense yet wonderful flow of the plot that took place all in one day. I walked into the theatre with very little knowledge of this production, and it didn't turn out to be what I expected. It was refreshingly different. This musical was based on a true story, backed by the book from James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, that told about the backgrounds and hopes of various dancers that actually existed. During an important audition, the characters tell their possible future director and other performers about who they are, their lives, how they got there, and most importantly, their dreams and aspirations. These descriptions included some touching and some comedic content, along with several interesting dance numbers and songs. The stage-length mirror in the back was a nice touch. Along with giving the set a more realistic feel to it, it also made the stage seem more occupied at times. This performance, however, from every one of the cast members was so boldly real and refreshing for me. I would recommend this to any adult, young or old, and I would most definitely enjoy being an audience member for this show again.

A Chorus Line review by Anthony Parker of RFA

The third show of the Broadway Theater League’s season was A Chorus Line. It became the “one singular sensation” of Broadway when it debuted in 1975, winning nine Tonys and a Pulitzer Prize. It is currently the sixth longest running show in Broadway history with over 6,000 performances. The book for the musical was written by James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante, and features music by the recently deceased Marvin Hamlisch. The plot focuses on a group of seventeen finalists in the search for the ideal dancers to make up a Broadway chorus line. It’s fundamentally the story of those who make it in show business and those who don’t. The show makes strong use of ensemble acting, with not one character vying for the chance to dance doing it for the same reasons. The characters are thus easier to identify with; almost everyone can relate to at least one character to some degree. And, since this show is all about dancing, the cast is wholly outstanding with their dancing. The show is also peppered by its memorable songs delivered with terrific singing and exceptional flair by the cast ( including “At the Ballet”, “Dance Ten Looks Three”, “One”, and the best number in the show by far, “What I Did for Love”). The only complaint I have about the show was the lighting design. The use of the spotlight was overly rigid and did not transition as well as it should have. But, that is a minor complaint for such a great show. A Chorus Line is the best show I’ve seen in the Youth Ambassador Program so far. I give it four and a half stars out of five. The next show is The Addams Family, opening February 12. Come see it!

A Chorus Line review by Michael Castellano of Herkimer

Tonight I had the opportunity to be a part of the audience for the opening night of A Chorus Line at The Stanley Theatre! Not knowing much about the hit 1975 Tony Award winning show, I was excited to see it. I knew that it was primarily a dancing show that ends with a big number involving sparkly gold suits…and that is pretty much it. To my surprise, I enjoyed the show very much! I’ll admit I wasn’t sure about how I would feel about it with it being set decades back and being mostly a dance show. But I was very happy with it. The choreography was amazing to watch, and sitting in the balcony made it easier to see the intricate moves the cast makes in the many big production numbers. The singing was of course just as amazing as the dances, I liked how almost every cast member was featured at one point or another, and that no one character seemed more important than another. The show also has it’s comedic moments, even some dirty jokes here and there, which is always entertaining. We also got to meet with a few members of the cast before the show, Sophie Menas, Gabriel Mudd, Mary Leigh Christine, Pim Van Amerongen, Jeremiah Ginn, and Andrea Weinzierl. They were all very nice and happy to take the time to speak with all of us. I can’t say anything negative about the show because it really was a great production with an amazing cast. I give this show an A+.

A Chorus Line review by Annie Zeina of Clinton

What a “Singular Sensation”! Being one of my favorite shows of all time, A Chorus Line is a true expression of the love and dedication the performers of today have to the stage. We follow 12 members, who all come from different backgrounds and all have a story to tell. Although they all come from various places in life, they meet in the middle with their one true passion, dance. One of my favorite songs “What I Did For Love” brought chills up my spine and “One” was as glamorous as I always remembered it would be. There is no doubt that the true meaning of this show reflected on each cast member as they performed one of broadways most memorable tales. This show is not about winning and losing while standing on that famous line, it’s about the journey getting there and the continuous struggle to achieve greatness. In the end, every member whether they make the cut or not, is a “Singular Sensation”.

Flashdance review by Lauren Holt Town of Webb

Those born in the Digital Media Age have been brought up in a world different than ever seen before. With the whole world at the click of a mouse our eyes have been trained to computer screens our entire lives. This could be the reason why the production of Flashdance at the Stanley Theatre mesmerized me. Growing up with the TV flashing ads, the computer close by and my iPod blaring created the perfect gateway to enjoy Flashdance. This show magnified my day to day doings to a whole new level. The backdrop of the performance was completely computerized and the music vibrated through the theatre. I was viewing the classic movie Flashdance three dimensionally. Alex a character whom I have always seen on screen came to life at the Stanley, epitomizing the spunk of the eighties. This production took something old and created a modern new look for its premier showing. However, the technologically advanced musical did not take away from the swagger Flashdance has been known for.

Flashdance review by Ross Agen of Poland

“Flashdance” was phenomenal, a definite hit and success. The dancing, the singing, and the characters all portrayed the 80s era as well as I could imagine it. Between the set designs and technology used in the production adding effects, such as the sparks in the steel mill when cutting/welding and the smelting pot in the background, the effects used in this show made the visuals of the production more realistic and really transported me into the places/areas the scenes took place. The choreography was everything I imagined 80s dancing would be, which helped to really time warp you to the 80s for the show. The grit and spunk of the main character, Alex, made her seem like a real city girl who knew how to fend for herself and was used to disappointment. Alex held tight to her dream of dance and getting into a ballet academy even though the odds were against her. The underdog story, along with the love story, that takes place in this show keeps the watchers enthralled throughout the performance. Alex worked as a bar dancer along with the supporting actresses, who stole the show. The sass, brutal honesty, and the slight to moderate vulgarity of these ladies had me laughing every time they came on the stage. All of the performers nailed their parts. There were a few mishaps throughout the show, but nothing that took away from over all performance. Little things, like a dropped hat and a skirt falling off of the performer’s leotard were all that I noticed to go wrong throughout the performance, and any difficulties that did come up, the performers pushed through and stuck to the saying, “the show must go on.” I was beyond pleased with this show and would recommend it to all ages above 13 and anyone above 10 at their parent’s discretion.

Flashdance review by Steve Sbiroli of Notre Dame

If you’re looking for something exhilarating, fun, and that has something for everyone, then look no further than Flashdance on Broadway. This musical adaptation of the iconic 1980s movie is full of flair, passion, sexuality, jaw-dropping talent, and the music and style of a decade as recognizable as the title itself. It’s visually gorgeous, brilliantly directed and choreographed, and all-around nothing short of impressive on all levels. There’s something in it for everyone (who is above thirteen, as much of the content is fairly suggestive), and is pure entertainment, whether it’s a blast from the past for people who grew up with the movie, or a fresh new experience for younger audiences experiencing the culture of a new decade for the first time.

The cast of the show is thoroughly talented, and everyone plays their parts brilliantly. The main character, Alex, is feisty, dynamic, and a fantastic dancer and singer. She sells it when it comes to playing the role of a strong, determined, ambitious young woman looking to make her way in the world through dance. Her best friend, Gloria, deals with a breakup, drug addiction, and the apparent hopelessness of her own dreams. Nick, Alex’s love interest, is her rich boss that matches her ambition in an effort to be a good employer that is relatable to the lower-middle class workers. These strong leads are supported by the equally engaging smaller roles. Hannah is Alex’s elderly mentor that provides humor and wisdom to the dialogue. Alex and Gloria’s fellow dancers at Harry’s club steal the show at times with their tremendous voices and strong, sassy attitudes. The entire cast is cohesive and does everything right when it comes to engaging the audience.

When the choreographer said at the beginning of the show that it is a very technical show, he was not kidding. The sets and props are absolutely breathtaking, and create an excellent setting that really feels like you are looking at a steel mill, city street, dance studio, etc. The lighting, stage effects, props, and projection all contribute to this effect, and are so versatile in creating so many different settings. The costumes are fantastic, accurately representing the iconic fashions of the 1980s, and also get quite risqué for many of the club dance scenes. Everything that appears on that stage works to draw you into the performance and gives the final product great believability.

Flashdance is full of dancing, music, fun, sex, and incredible stage effects. It’s exciting from the get-go, and the intermission between the two acts seems too long, because you’ll be on the edge of your seat to see what happens next. The Stanley Theatre had the pleasure to host this brand new show for its premiere before it goes on tour. I highly recommend finding dates for future performances and going to see this up-and-coming classic. Take the opportunity to witness the hottest new musical around for yourself, you will not be disappointed.

Flashdance review by Nick Kinney of Herkimer

Flashdance: the musical, based on the thoroughly 80s movie, comes to the stage. Currently, it is running the preview circuit before it goes on to Broadway. Changes are made every night: dialogue being re-worked, choreography changed, and music tweaked. The musical still has a long way to go.

The plot focuses around Alex Owens, a steel-mill worker in the day and a 'flashdancer' at night with dreams of going to a prestigious ballet school. Then a man, Nick Hurley, an executive of the company and from the family who owns the company, comes into her life. The main storylines, Alex striving to become a dancer with support from her instructor Hannah, and her relationship with Nick, are overused and outdated. The first being a failed attempt at women empowerment, especially when set with the backdrop being a place one step higher than a strip club, and the second being a trite example of romance that can be figured out right from the beginning. The subplots aren't much more exciting. Gloria, Alex's best friend, and her loser boyfriend both share dreams of reaching the big time, but Gloria becomes a real stripper in an ill fated attempt to achieve those dreams that gives some average drama one would see in a lifetime movie. Then another plot with economic troubles at the steel-mill gets lost among all the others. The sub-par story with very two dimensional characters moves to the beat transported directly from the 80s, drum machines, electric guitars, and synths abounding. In the big, fun productions this style is welcomed, while with the more dramatic and emotional songs, it comes off as a little cheesy.

While the story is a little hollow, presenting almost laughable social commentary, and the music can seem a little kitsch-y, the overall talent is great. Alex, played by Emily Padgett, has booming vocals, great dance moves, and an impressive memory seeing as almost everything she does during the show is being tweaked every night. Her acting may seem off, but I simply attribute that to a lackluster script. Nick, played by Matthew Hydzik, also has a great voice and even made the cheesier songs more enjoyable. Kelly Felthous, who plays Gloria, is funny and as talented, even with her higher pitched voice for the part. The only singing voice I was not impressed with was David R. Gordon's, Gloria's boyfriend Jimmy: it was a little nasally. The true enjoyment from the show comes from the modern choreography, glamorous and glitzy costumes, and impressive technical aspect. See the show just for the iconic water scene at the end of act one that has Alex dancing on a platform shooting water around her, like a more modern rendition of Singin in the Rain, that blends the dancing and technical prowess of the show in one beautiful moment.

Overall, sadly I am not a fan of Flashdance: the musical. This is especially disappointing knowing all the hard work that has been put in this show since its original production in 2008. However, there was something else I noticed in the theater: the nostalgia was extremely apparent in the audience. Don't go see Flashdance expecting a deep and complicated story. Don't go to see Flashdance to see incredible music. See Flashdance for the dancing, costumes, and 80s appeal. Anyone who grew up during this time will appreciate this musical much more. However, without that nostalgia factor, I would not see it again when it hits Broadway in this coming summer.

West Side Story review by Rachel Wojnas of Notre Dame

If painstakingly perfect choreography floats your boat, then West Side Story is your show. The acting was genuine and dynamic - this twist on Romeo and Juliet followed the original storyline closely enough that we were familiar with it, but shook it up enough so that we could still be taken by surprise when we least expected it. From the very first dance number to curtain call, the cast meant business, and they not only put themselves in 1950s West Side New York City, but pulled us into their world as well. This story is much more genuine than the movie - a bit of Spanish dialogue is thrown in here and there to add authenticity, and I can honestly say that I felt like I had lost a best friend in the end - a feeling I've never experienced so strongly in the world of theatre. The show was extremely dark at points, but I did plenty of laughing. "Gee, Officer Krupke" had me cracking up the entire time, and humorous bits were dispersed throughout the rest of the show to maintain a balance between the serious and not-so-serious. All in all, I would definitely give the show 5 stars, and I would HIGHLY recommend it to anybody. To boot, I had the opportunity to meet the cast afterwards, and every single person I talked to was extremely humble, gracious, incredibly easygoing, and absolutely hilarious. Tickets for tomorrow's show at the Stanley are still available, and you will not regret taking advantage of the opportunity to go. THANK YOU to everyone involved in Broadway Theatre League's Youth Ambassador Program for creating such an amazing experience. It won't be paralleled for a very long time!

West Side Story review by Melissa Paravati of New Hartford

It is nearly impossible to love theater- or even movies, for that matter- without hearing about West Side Story. It’s one of the most well-known musicals of all time; even someone who has never seen West Side Story would be able to hum “I Feel Pretty” or “America.” Never having seen either the movie or musical version of West Side Story, I went into the performance only knowing the tune of a few songs and a vague grasp of the plotline. I was more than impressed. West Side Story blew me away.

I knew during the first scene that West Side Story would live up to its expectations. The entire cast was just so talented, especially Maria. Her high notes were breathtakingly beautiful. The group numbers were the best part of the production; the cast danced perfectly in unison and sang harmony extremely well. The group numbers were energetic, professional, and hilarious. Though “I Feel Pretty” and “America” may be the most well known songs from this musical, “Gee Officer Krupke” deserves just as much attention for its humor.

The production at the Stanley differs slightly from the movie in the way that it incorporates Spanish into the script. In an attempt to give the musical a more realistic feel, the cast sprinkled Spanish throughout the dialogue and in some of the songs. They succeeded in their goal to be more realistic, and the Spanish didn’t take away from the plotline at all; since they mainly included Spanish in the better-known songs, like “I Feel Pretty,” it didn’t subtract anything from the performance. However, I do feel that the thick Spanish accent sometime took away from the English dialogue.

Overall, the performance hooked me from the very first musical number. The cast was incredibly talented and played their parts very well. They had a difficult job, living up to so many expectations, but they shone in their roles and showed me why West Side Story is considered a classic.

West Side Story review by Alissa Snyder of Mohawk

Last night through the Youth Ambassador Program, I was able to experience the wonderful production of "West Side Story." This modern version of "Romeo and Juliet" with a Puerto Rican twist was absolutely captivating. Meeting the cast before the show was amazing! Seeing that these actors are extremely kind and welcoming, as well as talented, was stunning. The set was very accurate for the time and era of each scene. While I personally believe the character of Anita was the best with her amazing singing and dancing during the song "America" the entire cast was superb! Each song was sung strongly and each dance was perfectly in sync. The sense of family that they felt with eachother shined through in each scene. The costumes blew me away with their vibrant colors and wonderful details. Overall, a fabulous show and a great time!

West Side Story review by Ryan Geer of VVS

Last Tuesday evening, I had the pleasure of being in the audience for A Chorus Line at the Stanley Theatre. I hadn't seen the show before, but I've heard a few of the songs and watched part of the movie. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. The fact that the entire show revolved around 17 dancers who were only looking for a casting was puzzling at first. Little did I know, each dancer had within them a character to be seen, a song to be sung, and a story to be told. The set, albeit simple, was extraordinary in that it was needless. I felt that the way the dancers moved so fluidly and sang so vividly gave no need for elaborate scenery, and captured the audience's attention. However, the mirrors behind them added a unique touch. You could see every movement the characters made, and it gave a sense of the characters having "nowhere to hide", which allowed them to convey their individual stories more clearly. Aside from the beautiful voices and choreography, the acting really drew my attention. For example, Paul's monologue about performing in a drag show and his relationship with his parents was fantastic. The fact that most of these actors do these scenes so many times repeatedly from show to show and still bring emotion and intention to them is impressive. "What I Did For Love" was definitely my favorite number of the show. Listening to them talk about why they do what they do and share a love for theatre was truly inspiring. After the show, I had the incredible opportunity to go to the cast and crew party, where I made some great friends and talked about the show with the cast! In hindsight, the entire night gave me a brand new perspective on performing and inspired me to keep doing what I love. Bravo!