By Mia Bridges of West Springfield High School
(The following is a review of the performance of “A Chorus Line” by George Mason High School on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019 from the Cappies, a program for theatre and journalism students through which students attend and discuss each other’s shows, write reviews for publication.)
One smile and suddenly nobody else will do — you know you’ll never be lonely with the company of A Chorus Line-High School edition at George Mason High School! A fun, realistic, and high-energy show, George Mason’s production of A Chorus Line: High School Edition is a thrilling combination of song, dance, and stellar actors and technicians!
A Chorus Line is a 1975 musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, and a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante. It is an iconic dance musical originally choreographed and directed by Michael Bennett, and it was the longest running show on Broadway until Cats surpassed it in 1997. The show tells the stories of seventeen Broadway dancers auditioning to be in the chorus of a director’s new show. When the director, Zach, asks them to tell him about about themselves, each dancer’s individual character shares his past, and motivations are revealed.
Leading the show is the Chorus Line itself, also known as the Line of Seventeen. The seventeen actors in this ensemble each portrayed characters that both contrasted and complimented fellow ensemble members. For instance, Rose Tombul as the sassy Sheila had the audience roaring with laughter at her brash jokes and innuendos, while Drew Miller as Paul thoroughly pulled on the audience’s heartstrings with his heartfelt monologue about his sexuality, first job, and discovery of what being a man means to him. Additionally, Pauline Bonner had fantastic physicality as Val and was consistently in character (even when she wasn’t in the spotlight), and Ciara Curtin’s energy and presence made her performance as the scatterbrained Judy stand out. Altogether, the amazing Line of Seventeen set the tone of the show with their high energy and fun dynamics.
Cassie, played by Krissy Hornbuckle, is one of the most notable members of the Line of Seventeen due to her past as a soloist and as Zach’s partner. Hornbuckle portrayed Cassie incredibly — especially considering that she learned the role in fewer than ten hours. Unfortunately, Kaia Jefferson, who originally played Cassie, was injured at the previous night’s performance and was unable to dance; however, after learning she would be playing Cassie at 10 A.M. the day of the performance, Hornbuckle truly stepped up to the challenge. Her dance skills were incredible, and her solo “The Music and the Mirror” was stellar. Acting against Hornbuckle, Avery Collins as Zach accomplished a difficult feat by creating a realistic, complex, and interesting character using only his voice. Even though he spent most of the show in the back of the house, his dynamic with Hornbuckle illustrated to the audience what the two’s past relationship was like.
Supporting A Chorus Line’s incredible actors were shows-topping technical elements that took the show from good to great. The lighting, designed by Sam Klemic, did a fantastic job of emphasizing different actors during their different solos. For example, the spotlights followed each actor perfectly, and the stage lights were expertly hung so that whenever an actor needed to be in focus, a light would change color above each of them creating a gorgeous pseudo-spotlight. Additionally, the huge mirror that lined the back of the stage was beautifully constructed, creating the illusion of a dance studio while not blinding the audience when the lights reflected off it.
With exciting dance numbers, stunning technical elements, and a cast of funny, complex, and genuine characters, George Mason High School’s production of A Chorus Line really was a singular sensation!