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‘An unqualified hit’: ‘A Chorus Line’ steps, kicks and leaps its way onto Hilton Head

Remember floppy discs? They were once used to control Hilton Head Arts Center’s lights

Brian Riley, Senior Director of Production of Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, demonstrates the age of the center's lighting system and the benefits a new LED system would bring.
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Brian Riley, Senior Director of Production of Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, demonstrates the age of the center's lighting system and the benefits a new LED system would bring.

Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch again!

“A Chorus Line” captures our focus immediately, as those of us in a preview audience at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on Hilton Head Island anticipate what will follow immediately after those words from the director of a Broadway show, at its early beginning.

In seconds, right after some challenging kicks and turns, he cues everyone with a shouted, “From the Top!”

Next we hear ... five ... six ... seven ... eight, and with that we are fully in place for the most spectacular close up look at our cast — portraying actors, singers, and dancers — gathered for an audition.

Our “A Chorus Line,” directed and choreographed by Casey Colgan, is an unqualified hit.

Everything, everything, about this enormously successful 1975 Broadway musical is spot – on, over-the top.

It is absolutely filled to the brim with huge amounts of phenomenal performances and associated, fierce razzle-dazzle.

Our Hilton Head production, if you’ve seen “A Chorus Line,” will thrill, entertain, and stop you in your tracks. And, if you’ve not seen “A Chorus Line,” it will thrill and entertain and stop you in your tracks.

The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, a kind of a show within a show, a Broadway musical about the preparation of a Broadway musical, conceived and originally choreographed by Michael Bennett, with music by Marvin Hamlisch, remains in position.

The plot line continues impressively, and the winning concept of dancers in an audition is a kind of parallel story line. We, in the audience, are kept not only entertained, but in sweet suspense, through the course of the two-act performance, wondering who, exactly, of the 23 putting themselves on the line, will ultimately be among the eight actually selected.

The auditions are amazingly important ... obviously to meet the dancers, to know how old they are, where they’ve performed, their name and stage name ... a resume, a kind of introduction.

But what takes “A Chorus Line,” to so many impressive levels, is the authenticity of the interchange between the director, and the young professionals vying, so sincerely, for a place in his show.

The stories he sensitively draws from each one is uniquely managed. Their presentations move by turns from strikingly funny, to strikingly poignant. You will listen carefully to their stories, wanting to ensure that the young performer will say or reveal, exactly what is needed to become a member of his cast.

Speaking of auditions, here would be the perfect place to tell you that 850 dancers auditioned for a spot in our “A Chorus Line” ... some from New York City, and some from Hilton Head.

There are, on our stage, throughout the evening, 23 cast members, carefully selected, well rehearsed, impressively supported and, most especially, carefully cossetted by Colgan.

Do look forward to the extraordinary musical works that flow from “Chorus Line.” Many will be familiar ... on their own, or in the context of the musical. In all cases, remember it was Marvin Hamlisch who composed them some 44 years ago!

Look forward to “I Hope I Get It,“ “I Can Do That,” “At The Ballet,” “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three,” “The Music and The Mirrors,” and “What I Did For Love.”

Music director John Samorian takes his musicians through their paces, too. There is just what is needed to balance the musical performances of the cast, and what is required to deliver a top notch dramatic presentation.

Stage manager Ginger James has seen to everything, as well. There is the requisite bare stage, a rehearsal space, the introduction of a line of mirrors, and with that, as required, the manipulation of the mirrors.

On target, too, is the lighting by Terry Cermak, sound by Aaron Vockley and costumes by Jennifer Van Buskirk.

We view the dancers in rehearsal, on an appropriately stark stage, or in dramatic contrast in the totally knock-out, leaves you breathless and with the song in your heart, “One” as the entire cast appears in gold and sequins and top hats ... performing in amazing unison with high-kicks that never stop.

Happily, the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina’s production of “A Chorus Line,” will run through June 2. Do not miss this “singular” and enduring musical performance.

If you go

What: “A Chorus Line”

Where: The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, 14 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head Island.

When: Runs through June 2.

Information: artshhi.com, 843-842-2787.

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