Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"A Chorus Line" in concert

Presented by Milwaukee Opera Theatre & Theater RED

Having never seen A Chorus Line before (blasphemy!), I wasn't really sure what to expect from this Milwaukee Opera Theatre (MOT) and Theater RED collaboration, staged the past two evenings at Cardinal Stritch University. I know the show is considered a musical theater classic, credited with the rebirth of the modern American musical, and for that I'm eternally grateful. But what of the show itself? 

In its entirety, A Chorus Line takes place during a dance audition for a Broadway chorus line. The characters are 20- and early 30-somethings, but MOT and Theater RED cast a lineup of veteran Milwaukee actors in the roles of young hopefuls for a unique touch. Knowing these two theater companies and their dedication to innovation, a twist of some kind wasn't surprising. But the effect this particular twist had on the story and audience was, indeed, remarkable. 

Playing for two nights only, with an aforementioned cast of Milwaukee favorites, the sold-out audience was no doubt packed with friends, family, groupies, and avid lovers of Milwaukee theater. Even I, a relative newbie to the Milwaukee theater scene, recognized a handful of faces in the Chorus Line cast and couldn't wait to see what they did with their part. 

There was the dryly hilarious and always-commanding Angela Innanone. Twinkle-toed David Flores. Diane Lane with her pitch-perfect delivery, both in song and comedic timing. The darling duo Karen Estrada and Doug Jarecki. Marcee Doherty-Elst bringing the va-va-voom. And angel-voiced Beth Mulkerron and Rana Roman taking it home with the show's famous ballad, "What I did for Love." 

On more than one occasion, applause erupted in earnest support of these actors that Milwaukee theater-goers have come to truly love. As the crowd rose to its feet in a final standing ovation, the sheer amount of pride in our city's incredible talent was palpable. 

It's insanely invigorating to play even a small part in such a community — and by viewing theater, you are indeed a part of it. I hope that Milwaukeeans who might be new to live theater will someday take a chance and join in the fun. As this Chorus Line proved, the theater scene in our town is a singular sensation.

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