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Superb 'Chorus Line' at Tulane's Summer Lyric Theatre

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A Chorus Line

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When it's done right, "A Chorus Line" can blow audiences away. When the ensemble is truly an ensemble that works and performs together, but is larger than the sum of its parts, the work written by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante will always be received very well. The music by Marvin Hamlisch with lyrics by Edward Kleban continues to stand the test of time as does the choerography originally conceived by the legendary Michael Bennett.

There's no doubt that director Diane Lala had considerable talent at her disposal, but could she shape up the cast of 24 auditioners, downsized shortly after the opening to 16, who would vie for the final eight available slots? The answer can be shouted "yes!" And the proof is in the final ending song "One."

But getting to the final, exciting moment as the 16 auditioners ascend to the stage in gold lame with glittering top hats is the crux of what "A Chorus Line" is all about. It's the struggle to find the talent to rise to a level never dreamed before in order to be part of a show that no one has any idea about except, perhaps, the director Zach, played by Robert Pavlovich. Pavolovich's character has the proper amount of respect for the dancing and singing actors as he grills each one on their motivations and past to determine if they have the mettle to be part of this new Broadway stage show.

The cast of characters has as many reasons to be on the stage as their are people in the world. Some are the product of abuse. Some are defective in many other ways. Some just want to be out there because they have to. It's that drive and determination Zach wants to tap (pun intended), assisted by Larry (Michael Marchese). Each has his or her own story. Some are funny. Many are sad. But what is evident in every one of the roles is that they are happy to be in the competition, no matter what happens. These players are the bedrock of Broadway, vagabonds who happily supporting the stars who will eventually get the media's attention and the fat contracts. They do what they do because they love it.

The other members of the cast are all superb.including Jauné Buisson Hebert, Trina Beck, Ian Blanco, Anna Toujas, Amy Laviolette, Emily Fortunato, Bryn Purvis, Lacey Faucheux, Kate Prendergast, Kirk Gagnon, Gentry Williams, Joshua Wayne Brewer and Michael Moore.

Roger Grodsky holds his baton high as he conducts an excellent orchestra. Costume designer Julie Winn does another outstanding job as does Daniel Zimmer on lighting and Stewart Becnel on sound. The offstage singers are also worthy of mentioning, several of whom appear onstage in the opening scene like Eryn Short, Daniel Rigamer, Gerald Williams II, Christopher Milligan and Keith Claverie.

"A Chorus Line" finishes its short run at Dixon Hall tonight and tomorow night at 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday afternoon with a final 2:00 p.m. matinee. Tickets are in very high demand and attendees are urged to go early as parking is very limited. Parking will be available at the Dibboll Garage off Ben Weiner Street. For ticket information call 504-865-5269.

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