Having just seen the national tour of A Chorus Line around this same time last year, I wasn’t sure how Nashville’s dinner theatre, The Keeton Theatre would compare with their current mounting of the multiple Tony-winning show. Considering I’ve truly loved most of the shows I’ve seen at, in particular their productions of Meet Me In St. Louis and White Christmas, I shouldn’t be surprised to find that I absolutely loved The Keeton Theatre‘s presentation of A Chorus Line. If you’ve not seen it, you’ve got one chance left, as the show ends its run tonight, Saturday, June 25.
Last year when I reviewed the national tour of A Chorus Line, I pointed out that for me, seeing A Chorus Line has become like visiting with an old friend. It was among the first Broadway shows I ever saw, I’ve seen various incarnations on both a regional and national tour level–so much so that I know quite a bit of the monologues and musical numbers by heart.
That feeling of familiarity was never more present than with Keeton Theatre‘s production, thanks to several cast members being recognizable from previous productions with both Keeton and Circle Players who share the theatre space at 108 Donelson Pike.
Most recognizable is Tim Larson. In what can only be described as art-meets-life or is that life-meets-art, Tim is cast as Zach, the director of the show-within-a-show that is the premise of A Chorus Line. For those who may not know, Tim is usually behind the scenes as a director/choreographer who also happens to be Board President for Circle Players.
Familiar faces in the cast include Daniel Collins, Jessi Higgins, Faith Kelm, Caleb Reynolds and Donna Driver, all of whom have appeared onstage in previous Keeton or Circle Players productions. Even relative newcomers Spencer Dean and Ryan Garrett are now old pros, having both appeared recently at The Keeton Theatre in Circle Players production of 13: The Musical.
In the two years since Faith Kelm played Carmen in Circle Players production of Fame, Kelm‘s not only improved as a an actress, but as a vocalist as well. Her solos on Nothing and What I Did For Love were highlights of the show.
Other expected highlights include the always hilarious Sing, in which Higgins–in the role of tone-deaf, but bubbly Kristine–does her best not to be able to sing on key. There there’s Dance Ten, Looks Three. Abigayle Horrell, another Keeton Theatre veteran, who in spite of her youth, is totally convincing as Val, the small town girl who moved to New York only to realize a little surgical enhancement might boost her career.
On a more serious note, the aforementioned Ryan Garrett shines in the role of Paul, the young man coming to terms with a troubled family history and his desire to follow his dreams. A Chorus Line marks Garrett‘s second stage role in his burgeoning career following his debut in 13. While he was enjoyable as Brett in 13, Garrett really shows his range in the role of Paul, especially during the crucial monologue detailing his family life.
No doubt much of the emotion conveyed throughout the show can be attributed to the show’s director and choreographer, Kate Adams-Johnson. Subtle movement and stage directions are present throughout the show. Prime examples come during Hello Twelve, or what could easily be referred to as the show’s puberty number. When Spencer Dean as Mark recalls an embarrassing confession, he plays both priest and confessor by way of quick repositioning. During the same number, as Connie (Sandra Kennelly) laments being vertically challenged, another subtle stage direction has Daniel Collin‘s Bobby, who must be over six feet tall, bending down to Connie‘s level. Subtle but funny, nonetheless.
Adams-Johnson‘s skills as a choreography are showcased during the entire show, especially the grace of At The Ballet and the intimacy of The Music and the Mirror, when all the other actors vacate the stage, save Cassie (Keeton newcomer Mallory Gleason). It’s as much fun watching the movement of Cassie‘s reflection in the rotating panel of mirrors that line the back of the stage as it is to watch the actress/dancer herself.
Another great moment of choreography comes at the end of Act 1 when everyone lets loose with a bit of interpretive dance a la Charlie Brown and Peanuts gang. OK, maybe that was just my pop culture-saturated mind’s go-to place for that sequence, but it was fun to watch regardless.
Of course the big number, One is fantastic. With top hats and gold tux and tails costumes by Keeton‘s resident costumer, Laura Higgins, and some spot-on kick, step, kick choreography, it’s the glitzy ending we all know is coming, but can’t wait to see.
While The Keeton Theatre’s Saturday, June 25 closing performance of A Chorus Line officially marks the end of their 2010-2011 Season, there’s nearly always something onstage. Up next, on July 14-24, they’ll present the Nashville premiere of Camp Rock: The Musical, the end result of this year’s Camp Rock Summer Camp theatre program for youngsters. Then from August 5-13 it’s Theater Bug‘s production of The Most Amazing Anything of Everytime, another production featuring an all-youth cast.
As for The Keeton Theatre’s 2011-2012 Season, the musical Chicago will hit the stage on September 15-October 1 with auditions happening August 7 & 8. For more info and a look at the full upcoming season, CLICK HERE.
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