By Neil Durham
WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHEN? Wednesday 18 May, runs to 29 May 2022 RUNTIME: 135 minutes without interval
Two years ago Oscar-nominated actor Antonio Banderas revealed he was in negotiations to bring this Spanish language production of the classic musical to Broadway (see clip below).
- Read on for reasons including why this Spanish production of A Chorus Line would be a Broadway hit
He has previously starred in this production as domineering director Zach (pictured in YouTube clip below) although here the part is played by Tony Alvarez who bears a striking physical resemblance to 61-year-old Banderas as well as sounding like him.
We last saw a 2013 production of this musical at the Palladium in London’s West End starring John Partridge, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and Leigh Zimmerman and that, like this, is a predominantly faithful staging of the 1975 musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch.
We join 24 dancers on the bare stage of a Broadway theatre as they are auditioning, aspiring to be part of the chorus line, a state where they have to work as a team and achieving something without any of its members excelling and standing out.
They are about to be cut to 17 and then, finally, eight at the show’s close and as the musical progresses we meet each of them, learning their stories and why they are here as they try to impress Zach.
A Chorus Line is essentially a love letter to Broadway which also shows the determination and dedication of actors to get to the top of their game and it won 9 Tonys and the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The ensemble cast is impressive here and we particularly enjoyed Sonia Dorado as sassy Sheila who has all the best lines and is competing against Zach’s ex-girlfriend Cassie for a spot in the show.
Estibalitz Ruiz as Diana sings exceptionally strongly during Nada (Nothing), when we learn her contempt for an acting coach, and the much more tender Lo Hice Por Amor (I Did It For Love).
Graciela Monterde’s decision to choose plastic surgery during (Baile, Diez; Look, Tres) (Dance, 10; Looks, 3) still feels relevant today and the actress carries it off with appropriate sexual sizzle.
Easy to forget that this show was before the TV audition shows that still proliferate the world’s airwaves and pre-Fame, although we suspect the success of that film and TV series led to the greenlighting of the celluloid version of the stage musical starring Michael Douglas.
The show’s drama comes from both the cutting of the dancers to its cast but also Zach telling Cassie she’s too good for the chorus line.
This is our 1st visit to a Barcelona theatre and the 1919 built, 1,649-capacity venue appears to us to be modelled at least in ornamentation to London’s Old Vic but is lengthier and doesn’t share the tightness of the curve pulling the performer into the heart of the action of the London venue.
We’re sat on the end of row 2 and Tony Alvarez’s Zach moves past us as he leaves and re-enters the stage during the show, always a thrill.
Grup Balañá’s production is a faithful reinterpretation of a beloved show with a unique selling point that it is in Spanish and would undoubtedly find its Spanish-speaking audience on Broadway.
We look forward to next seeing it in New York although the Spanish cast recording is available via the usual platforms should you wish to get a sense of what it sounds like before then.
- Pictures via Facebook courtesy Grup Balañá and Tivoli Theater Tickets
- Have you heard any of these songs or seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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