April 7 2010 12:00 AM

'Chorus Line' starting to show its age


“A Chorus Line” is an effective metaphor for the current economic climate, when “I’ll do anything for work” is a similarly common refrain. And you do feel the desire — if not the desperation — of the actors as they plea for their shot at stardom.

“Broadway’s dying,” says one character. “They’re not doing big musicals like they used to.”
Maybe when this show debuted in 1975, the Great White Way was going through a drought. But 35 years later, a glut of jukebox musicals and splashy spectaculars culled from popular movies have reinvigorated the medium — and left audiences demanding more.

This is supposed to be a minimalist show (the only moving set piece is a rotating backdrop that flips from being a mirror to being…. not a mirror), but it needs more than a retro tableau and meta book to capture the hearts and minds of modern audiences. It probably worked then, but I couldn’t help but wonder what Baz Luhrmann — or hell, Mel Brooks — could do with the show to infuse it with something resembling the 21st century.

 “Nothing,” “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” (a.k.a., “Tits and Ass”) and, of course, “One” stand the test of time, thanks in big part to the hard work of the actors, who each imbue their characters with everything they have.

Ashley Yeater plays a great alpha bitch as Sheila and Rebecca Riker’s Cassie has an eye-popping, James-Bond-title-sequence-ish standout, but it was Nicky Venditti’s Paul, struggling with his homosexuality, that really shocked the audience.

Some things never go out of style.

'A Chorus Line'
Wharton Center
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 7 and Thursday, April 8
8 p.m. Friday, April 9, and Saturday, April 10
2 p.m. Saturday, April 10
1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 11