A Chorus Line, was a smash hit when it debuted in 1975. The behind the scenes “putting-on-a-show” type storyline harkens back to classic musicals of the 30s and 40s. But though it depicts the trials and drama of backstage, A Chorus Line also examines human stories of unique individuals, and the social politics of the time.
“I still feel these stories are relevant 50 years later,” says Amy Campbell, director and choreographer for the current mounting by Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Though she’s maintained a 1970s feel, she has included features to make it timeless.
It’s a sparse setting with a simple premise – a cast of dancers auditioning and then rehearsing for a show. The plot and tension comes from the individual personalities and the conflicts with the show’s director, Zach, played by Tim Draxl.
For Campbell, there was a strong sense of life reflecting art.
“It definitely felt like I was doing the show as I was auditioning everybody for the show,” she says. “What you see in the show is what you [really] go through, quite repetitively, to book a job in musical theatre.”
Campbell has been a professional singer, dancer and actor for around 18 years, so she could completely empathise with the over 500 hopefuls who applied for the 20 available parts.
“It was really important to me to have open calls for this show and give everybody a chance to audition to be a part of A Chorus Line because, of course, that’s exactly what the storyline is about,” says Campbell. “I really wanted to find charismatic and authentic artists to bring these stories to life.”
The performers have to be true triple threats because the dancing is high calibre and the roles require nuanced, complex acting and singing. Campbell is confident she has found 20 exceptional performers who’ll deliver fully. She herself is also stepping up to the challenge.
“I am feeling pressure to create something wonderful, but also, if there ever was a dance show to be able to create, it’s A Chorus Line because I’ll be using every part of my skill set as a choreographer and director to get this show on the stage.”
Until Apr 19. Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton St, Darlinghurst. $60-$70+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.darlinghursttheatre.com
By Rita Bratovich