I’ve decided 2020 is going to be my year of the theatre. Not quite once a month, but so far my ticket bookings for the year are looking healthy, if a bit clustered across the same months. I need to get them spread out a bit more! I have booked via ATG theatres, but they’re so pricy once you’ve included booking fees, plus big parking costs as they’re all big cities, so it’s nice when I spot more local theatres have a great selection of shows.
Warwick Arts Centre is one of my favourite arts complexes. With a large concert hall and good sized theatre, both of which you can’t really have a bad seat in, tickets are often great value. And they have some great comedians, concert orchestras, bands and theatre companies visiting. The most recent visit was to see A Chorus Line, a student performance from Musical Theatre Warwick (MTW) society.
A Chorus Line is one of my favourite films and as a teen I used to watch it a lot. I know all the words so I knew it would be a struggle to not sing along. I missed out on the chance to see it on Broadway when we were in New York because the Broadway strike was on (gutted). But the one time we spotted it in the UK, I bought my mum a ticket and took her for a Christmas present. It was the last show we saw together because she had just been diagnosed with a brain tumour but it was a great stage show, if a little different in a couple of the songs (I’m always sad that there’s no ‘Let me dance for you’ in the stage show).
So when I spotted it was on at Warwick Arts Centre the same week it was on, I knew I had to get a ticket.
A Chorus Line is simply the story of a group of dancers auditioning for the chorus line in a Broadway Show. The director sits in the audience, and the dancers are put through not only their dancing paces, but also share their personal lives, backgrounds, hopes and fears. One dancer Cassie, turns up to audition, having previously been in a relationship with the director, and having failed at making it as a star. It’s a simple concept, but one that brings out the struggles of being in the background of theatre, and how important each person’s story is, wherever they fit into a cast.
MTW provided a twist with a female in the role of director, rather than the usual man providing a modern update.
I thought the performance overall was really professional, in particular the One finale was as impactful as I’ve seen performed by pros. The ensemble dancing was good although the singing was probably stronger across the board than the solo dancing in some places. In particular Gracie Moss as Maggie and Kiara Shey as Diana stood out for me as singers.
Everyone gave it their all, and I was pleasantly surprised at how consistent the American accents were. I’d not be able to do that at all.
There were moving songs and prose from several of the cast – Luca Catena as the quiet Paul, and the emotional re-meeting of Zara and Cassie (Imogen Farr and Rosie Maciver-Redwood respectively). But Shaquira Lue’s Val performing Dance Ten, Looks Three was one of the highlights of the show. I know the musical so knew the song was coming up, but it would be interesting to see how others not expecting it, took it in.
Sophie Holmes played a really strong Sheila, a great character to get her teeth into, and kept in character through the show.
The entire cast was well put together and rehearsed, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable show with a live band performing alongside. (I really wanted to know why the drummer was behind a perspex screen – turns out it’s to control the volume.
I shall be keeping a look out for future student performances in future. A chance to see potential musical stars of the future and enjoy the musical itself.
Do you go and see student performances? Are you a fan of A Chorus Line?