A View from the Cliff: “A Chorus Line” is singular sensation at RTC

“Won’t forget. Can’t regret. What I did for love…” — Arguably one of the greatest musicals of all time, “A Chorus Line” is currently dazzling audiences with inspired interpretations. The troupe that consistently commands large, enthusiastic crowds is the Rockaway Theatre Company.

“I hope I get it. I hope I get it…” — The sacrifice, disappointments, hopes and victories of modern life are encapsulated in this multi-Tony winning production, originally presented in the 1970s, in which some desperate Broadway hopefuls audition for a handful of positions. Not as leads. But in the chorus line!

Directors Susan Warren Corning and David Risley, along with producer Susan Jasper, continue cultivating their best talent for this amazing production. Demanding Zach is played by Frank Caiati. He is certainly at the top of his game in another of his leading roles.

The charismatic Catherine Leib returns as world-weary but determined Cassie.  A frequent show stopper, her dancing, singing and acting are emotional high points.

At this bare stage “audition,” the chorus line hopefuls are prodded to reveal intimate details of their private lives. This becomes one of the keys to the show’s unstoppable success. After all, they are seeking a job in the faceless chorus yet the audience cannot help but empathize with their individual struggles. Bravo!

Musical Director Jeffrey Arzberger leads a well-tuned 10-piece orchestra.  Choreographer Nicola DePierro-Nellen and Stage Manager Suzanne Riggs deliver a well-coordinated evening filled with a great deal of music and movement.

The performers themselves portray a cross section and sometimes a caricature of society. Each leaves an unmistakable mark on our senses.  Avital Asuleen, Leigh Dillon and Chloe Carlston harmonize with “At the Ballet.”

Nic Anthony Calabro sings “I Can Do That.” Gabrielle Mangano and Antonio Oliveri play wide-eyed newlyweds. Erech Holder-Hetmeyer, Maria Schirripa and Ashley Ann Jones sing “And.” Nicole Mangano sings powerfully in both Act I and Act II.

The monologues are sometimes intense, sometimes lighthearted. They are delivered by Mai Odaira, John Panepinto, Brian Sadowski, James Dalid and Anthony Melendez.  

The glitzy, unforgettable finale brings all the dancers downstage for a singing, strutting chorus line. The lights are bright, the costumes are gold. It’s a stirring end to a fantastic evening.

For information on this and future projects, check RTC’s website at www.rockawaytheatrecompany.org or call 718-374-6400. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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