Keeper of the Plans

Review: Incredibly synchronized dancing the highlight of MTW’s ‘Chorus Line’

“Is this the part where we start kicking?”

Yes, reader, that’s “A Chorus Line.”

There’s just something about a totally synchronized kickline that’s awe-inspiring.

I mean, that’s been the staple of the world-famous Rockettes for years — and in Broadway land, “A Chorus Line” is the gold standard (literally).

It takes a disciplined, polished cast to pull off “A Chorus Line” and impress an audience, a testament to the talent of the original Broadway cast (which so many productions have tried to emulate).

Well, far be it for the summer company of Music Theatre Wichita to shy away from a challenge.

MTW’s production of “A Chorus Line” is a wonderful rendition of the classic musical that features plenty of nods from the original while managing to highlight the individual talents of each of its leads.

The musical, which premiered on Broadway in 1975, follows the story of 17 aspiring Broadway dancers going through a rigorous audition to get their next show, which they all desperately need. It’s set on a bare stage with minimal props.

Usually with an MTW production it’s pretty obvious which actors and actresses have been imported from Broadway.

The Broadway veterans are just typically a step above everyone else in the cast (and that’s not a slam to the resident company at all — it’s just the difference between years of experience on Broadway and still being in college).

With this show, the playing field is much more level — there’s not really a singular lead role, other than perhaps the director Zach (played here by David Elder) and the dancer Cassie (played by Paige Faure).

This show is a coup for MTW’s entire triple-threat company — who together make for a thoroughly impressive, entertaining and cohesive unit.

The choreography by director/choreographer Brian J. Marcum is stunning, and his cast’s impeccably synchronized performance of it was perhaps the best thing about this show.

A show about dancers should have good dancing.

Special kudos to the following:

Faure, who made her MTW debut in exhilarating fashion, particularly during her ultra-difficult, nearly 10-minute long dance and vocal solo, “The Music and the Mirror.”

Larkin Reilly, who drew laughs and quite the reaction from the audience during her, well, interesting solo, “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three.”

Gabriella Enriquez, who beautifully sung one of the best-known songs from this musical, “What I Did For Love.”

Preston Perez, who nearly brought me to tears during his monologue — one of the most poignant scenes in the show.

Don Fox, who designed the lighting for this show, at times bare and revealing and at times colorful and evocative.

Of course, the show culminates in the spectacular “One,” featuring that emotionally stirring kickline I mentioned earlier. Don’t miss it.

Just one more thing: For those unfamiliar with the show, it’s about 2 hours long and performed without intermission.

Make sure you take a bathroom break pre-show.

‘A CHORUS LINE’

What: New production of the classic 1975 musical about aspiring Broadway dancers

When: 7:30 p.m. Thurs.; 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 2 p.m. Sat.-Sun.; and 7 p.m. Sun.

Where: Century II Concert Hall, 225 W. Douglas

Tickets: $25-$70, from the Century II box office, by phone at 316-265-3107, or online at www.mtwichita.org.

More information: Show is rated PG-13 for strong language and candid discussions about teen sexuality. Running time is 2 hours and 10 minutes, with no intermission. Children must be at least 5 years old to attend.

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.
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