Lessons in Tag-lines: Don't go with "The Best Musical. Ever."


Last night my friend Jennifer and I saw A Chorus Line. Neither of us were very familiar with it, and haven't seen the apparently atrocious movie. Luckily our seats were close, but our views were practically ruined by people with enormous heads.

For information on the plot and characters, read the synopsis here. This particular show-within-a-show is very bare-bones: no gimmicks, frills, or huge, elaborate numbers. It's very choreography-driven, and there is a lot of time where the dancers are just standing in a line or by themselves. I found myself drawn to many if not all of the different characters, but neither Jennifer nor I felt really attached or invested in their stories. I had a hard time because even though there's a hint of a love story, it wasn't enough to pull me in the same way other musicals do.

The songs were hit and miss. "One" was my favorite song (not surprisingly), but I also really liked "At the Ballet" but only when they were actually talking about the ballet: "Raise your arms and someone's always there." Sheila's bit really interested me, but the other two girls' stories seemed more commonplace. I also really liked Greg, Paul, Diana and Val (I kept picturing Kristin Chenoweth singing "Tits and Ass" really well).

"What I Did For Love" is a good song...but I kept seeing it as a break-up song for a couple. Which I guess makes sense if you see 'dance' as the thing they were potentially breaking up with. But I didn't buy it. "The Music and the Mirror" scene where Cassie dances her panty-hose off to prove she's a dancer? Meh. When everyone erupted into applause after she finally stopped dancing, I clapped because I was impressed she could dance for that long every night. But as far as the actual dancing went, I was underwhelmed. Why? I have a feeling that watching So You Think You Can Dance has upped my standards.

All in all, I was highly entertained and really glad I saw the show. Jennifer thought that our like but not love of the show might have something to do with the fact that the show has in no way been updated since it debuted on Broadway. The costumes, dialog, attitudes, songs, choreography--all of it is still very late 1970s. Don't get me wrong, I like the 70s, but it felt dated and certainly not ground-breaking in its explorations of identity. But maybe that's because other shows I've seen were able to push those themes farther thanks to barriers broken by A Chorus Line.

So did it live up to its self-proclaimed title of 'the best musical ever'? No. But should you see it? Yes.

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