When I went: 4 May 2013
Location: London Palladium, London
Performers: John Partridge (Zach), Scarlett Strallen (Cassie), Victoria Hamilton-Barritt (Diana), Rebecca Herszenhorn (Val)
Creative team: Michael Bennett and Bob Avian and Baayork Lee (directors / choreographers), James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante (book), Marvin Hamlisch (music), Edward Kleban (lyrics)
Approximate price: £65
Special points: Meta plot, a musical buff’s musical
Best bit: Dance: Ten; Looks: Three
If I could change one thing: More coherent story
A Chorus Line is a classic, but it is also very divisive. Some people love it for its ‘meta’ quality – its story focusing around a group of actors auditioning for a new show – and some hate it for its lack of coherent plot and disjointed songs.
Love it or hate it, it has some undeniably strong songs, including At the Ballet, One, What I Did For Love and Dance: Ten; Looks: Three. The dancing is the aspect that many musical theatre buffs go for, and is always fun to watch. However, it doesn’t really matter how well-directed performances of this musical are; some people will just not get it or enjoy it.
Unusually for a London musical, there were lots of empty seats and some people left halfway through – probably a symptom of people not ‘getting’ it, as I mentioned above.
I felt sorry about this on behalf of the performers, as they were giving it their all regardless, with plenty of warmth especially in the portrayals of Cassie and Diana by Scarlett Strallen and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt respectively. John Partridge as Zach was merely a voice in the background, but a familiar one to many due to his turns in Eastenders and in the BBC show Over the Rainbow.
I found myself quite drawn in by this performance almost despite myself – I could tell the musical wasn’t as strong overall as ones like Chicago and Phantom but there is just something about it that is quite compelling. Maybe it is the raw quality of the songs and the lyrics, exposing the characters’ dreams for everyone to see, without much retreat into irony or self-deprecation as they only have their talents and their time-limited dancing abilities to rely on.