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Review: Lauderhill Performing Arts Center presents first-rate production of ‘A Chorus Line,’ playing through Jan. 28

The cast of “A Chorus Line,” presented by LPAC at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center. (Morgan Sophia Photography/Courtesy)
The cast of “A Chorus Line,” presented by LPAC at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center. (Morgan Sophia Photography/Courtesy)
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It’s doubtful any statistics exist to back this up, but probably a week doesn’t go by in which at least one professional, community or student theater somewhere isn’t producing the musical “A Chorus Line.”

And there is good reason. This Pulitzer Prize-winning musical continues to be fresh and vibrant — as the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center (LPAC) proves with its first-rate production of “A Chorus Line” running through Jan. 28. “A Chorus Line” launches LPAC’s new Broadway series, which also includes “Memphis” from Feb. 15 to March 3 and “Hello, Dolly!” from April 4 to 21.

Under the steady guidance of director Michael Ursua, and with re-staged choreography by Alex Jorth, this rendition thoroughly entertains with solid dancing and poignant talks from this chorus line’s members.

“A Chorus Line” revolutionized theater when it was launched on Broadway in 1975, with its music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, and a book by James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante. The cast included no major stars to draw in audiences (though the musical did launch the careers of several actors). The stage was bare, except for a mirror in the background that served as a dancing tool.

It also eschewed glitzy, eye-popping costumes for T-shirts, leggings and workout clothes. There was no intermission, which, no doubt, cut into the concession profits. Despite these drawbacks, “A Chorus Line” was a box office and critical hit, earning 12 Tony Award nominations, winning nine, plus the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. At one time, it was the longest-running show on Broadway.

Desir Dumerjuste and company perform “Gimme the Ball” in the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center’s production of “A Chorus Line.” (Morgan Sophia Photography/Courtesy)

The production focuses on 17 unknown Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on a chorus line that will back up its unseen star. The audition includes lots of dance, of course, as they show their abilities. But the audition takes a different turn when each must explain what shaped their lives and why they decided to become dancers.

“A Chorus Line” also is about careers — doing what you love, even when it doesn’t love you back; and taking that risk of being rejected, of knowing your choice of profession has a shelf life. Yet, this is what you love and you have no choice but to pursue that career, all of which is explained when the cast joins together for the anthem “What I Did for Love.”

Ursua skillfully reimagines the original concept. The stage is bare except for a scattering of personal bags that dancers bring to an audition, and that vital mirror. The decidedly unglamorous costumes represent how the cast would dress for an audition. And “A Chorus Line” is performed without an intermission.

He also has assembled a cast of young, energetic dancers/actors. While most have had roles in a variety of South Florida productions, none are among the area’s best-known performers. That is likely to change, thanks to Ursua’s production.

“A Chorus Line” is definitely an ensemble piece, yet it was devised so that each person’s memories pack an emotional wallop. The audience connects with each, wishing that everyone could land this role, rooting for those who are picked, sad for those who don’t. The audience knows how they feel when the company sings “I Hope I Get it.” It takes a toll when one of the most talented dancers injures himself and is out of the running. The audience can only hope that he heals quickly and goes on to have a fabulous career.

Lauren Cluett (Cassie) performs “The Music and The Mirror” in “A Chorus Line.” (Morgan Sophia Photography/Courtesy)

Standouts include but are not limited to: Stephen Eisenwasser (Mike), Lauren Horgan (Diana), Anna Cappelli (Val), Larry Toyter (Bobby), Desir Dumerjuste (Richie), Alexandra Van Hasselt (Judy), Madison Wilcox (Sheila), Nia Bourne (Bebe) and Abbey Alder (Maggie).

Notably, pain is clear in the monologue when Samuel Colina as Paul recounts an earlier job and the first time his father called him “my son.” Chad Raven as casting director Zach keeps the momentum going.

The exceptional role in “A Chorus Line” continues to be Cassie, the uber-talented dancer who years ago left the chorus — and Zach — for a big career that never happened. Now she desperately wants to rejoin the chorus line. This role launched a long career for the original Cassie, Donna McKechnie. Here, Lauren Cluett delivers an outstanding Cassie, showing why, as Zach says, she doesn’t dance like anyone else and why she needs to dance, explaining it in “The Mirror and the Music.”

Compliments also go to the lighting design by Will Gibbons-Brown, sound design by Christian Taylor and Ursua who adds music direction to his job titles.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: “A Chorus Line””

WHEN: Wednesday to Sunday, through Jan. 28

WHERE: Lauderhill Performing Arts Center, 3800 NW 11th Place

COST: $45-$65

INFORMATION: ; 954-777-2055

A version of this review ran in .

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