A Chorus Line - Sydney Festival

Rebecca Varidel
15th Jan 2022

Broadway’s iconic dance musical A Chorus Line first opened on Broadway in 1975. Ten Tony Awards®, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and countless international tributes later, the acclaimed stage show remains one of the most successful musicals of all time.

Set on the bare stage of a Broadway theatre, the musical as the show title suggests is centered on Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on a chorus line. A Chorus Line searches the inner lives and ambitions of these professional Broadway dances, and features one powerhouse number after another. You probably know and love them already, 'What I Did for Love', 'One', 'I Can Do That', 'At the Ballet', 'The Music and the Mirror', and 'I Hope I Get It'.

Up until A Chorus Line, the Broadway musical had focused on the 'stars'. Then this ground breaking musical changed the focus, not only giving recognition to the ensemble, but providing a glimpse behind the scenes, and therefore introducing the audience to a new style of story, staging and choreography.

At the time of opening, it is said that the original 1975 show revived an ailing Broadway. Are you feeling the Sydney parallels nearly 50 years later, as The Darlinghurst Theatre Company welcomes us back to live theatre in Sydney? After delays in opening due to that 'c' word, and we can only guess there has been some challenges to the rehearsals as well as the show due to lockdowns and then escalating isolations, the Darlinghurst Theatre Production of A Chorus Line has opened at Riverside Theatre Parramatta, and will then move on to the stage of the Sydney Opera House.

At its heart, this production remains true to the original Broadway show. As it's a dancing musical, the dancing is definitely the core. Applause to the talents of Helpmann Award-nominated director choreographer Amy Campbell for her brand new choreography. Throughout the auditions, the individual story telling dance moves of the chorus line are splattered with spectacular acrobatics. And it still carries enough of the original feels, hip thrusts, hat tips to be true. Then, the big production finale enchants us and indelibly engraves those last moments of the show on our memory. Loved the shazam silver sparkles of that last scene too which enhances as a modern update on the traditional golden glow. And yes those acrobatics carry us through to curtain.

Credits for stand outs go to the triple threat dynamite Angelique Cassimatis in the role of Cassie, who is believable in emotions, and transitioning the reverse move from 'star' back to chorus. But watch out powerhouse as she shines in her solo 'The Music and the Mirror'. Cassimatis has worked with Amy Campbell before, when Campbell choreographed her one-woman show, Guilty Pleasures. We see a bit of that dynamic in the story too, who has and who hasn't worked with the director Zach before. Zach's played by Adam Jon Fiorentino, strong and commanding yet compassionate, his voice is the story-line mortar.

Rechelle Mansour plays the loud attention seeking Val which is kind of funny, for this reason... IRL Mansour herself is stunning and a model, but her Val is an excellent dancer who couldn’t get performing jobs because of her looks (until she had plastic surgery that is). Mansour delivers a totally lovable character and believable performance, the kind that makes you imagine you are actually in rehearsal with her. Superb! Total love!! And while the story does include a married couple, we're seeing Rechelle's IRL Maikolo Fetikoa love on the same stage too, as optimistic first timer Mark. Just to set the record straight, we loved your hoofin', acrobatics, acting and all out fab-u-lous-ness also. And get this, it is his actual musical theatre debut, the same as it is for his character. Good casting! Now to the onstage couple, Ross Chisari perfectly portrays street wise Al from the Bronx, newly married to Kristine. And it's stripey Suzanne Steel as Kristine who first captures our attention in the opening number with the first perfect high kick of the show.

Mariah Gonzalez reels us in as the determined streetwise Latina from the Bronx. Throughout the show she gives us sass, but then lets us in with an open hearted vulnerability in her solo 'Nothing'. Blonde bombshell Nadia Coote is the legs, and the business, as Sheila. She gets her flirtatious confidence down pat in her all rounder accomplishments, she is the T in 'all THAT'. 

To be brutal, A Chorus Line is seemingly simple, yet this is a very challenging show to make. Bottom line, this Darlinghurst Theatre Company production is just what Sydney needs right now, colourful, fun and entertaining.


Photos by Robert Catto, courtesy of Sydney Festival.