The Long Center for Performing Arts’ commences its new Broadway Series this week with the classic musical, "A Chorus Line," playing through Sunday in the Michael & Susan Dell Hall.
The show is presented in conjunction with Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars production company, with the cast and crew visiting after a successful run in their home town.
Garnering positive reviews for the Houston production, the show is well put together in terms of performances and directing.
However, opening night Wednesday at the Long Center proved painfully choppy in terms of technical issues with both sound and lighting.
Setting an ominous precedent, the cavernous space sucked up the sound for what should have been an excellent opening number. We couldn’t hear the actors’ singing over the music, so the famous song, "I Hope I Get It," was only salvaged by the excellent dancing.
Perhaps it was just opening night. Perhaps the technical crew didn’t have sufficient time to rehearse in the new space.
But the technical aspects of this performance took it from what might have been Broadway quality down to something more on the level of community theater.
Microphones cut in and out constantly, spotlights failed to hit their mark, and the poor actors just had to power through the chaos.
But power through they did. And in spite of the problems, the show offers a number of exceptional performances in a very strong ensemble.
Logan Keslar (Bobby) provides a delightful and hilarious series of pantomimes, and Kevin Curtis (Richie) is utterly charming throughout. In the more somber monologue that opens the second act, Jordan Fife Hunt (Paul) gives a movingly sincere performance.
We can’t help but adore Kristen Paulicelli (Val) for her bawdy rendition of "Dance: Ten, Looks: Three," even if the song itself might make our inner feminist want to curl up and die.
Overall, this production of "A Chorus Line" offers a solid performance of a classic piece, meeting our aesthetic expectations with lots of leotards and leggings and mirrors. And the personal and financial struggles of performing artists still ring true even 40 years after the show’s debut.
It’s just a shame that the space failed the performers so spectacularly. We can only hope that they will sort out these issues before the brief run closes.
"A Chorus Line" continues through July 28 at the Long Center. www.thelongcenter.org.