A CHORUS LINE
WALTHAM — When “A Chorus Line” made its 1975 debut, it was theatrical catnip. It ruled the 1976 Tony Awards, taking trophies for nine of its 12 nominations. The show is Broadway’s version of a group therapy session played out through song and dance: The 17 not-quite kids, not-exactly adults auditioning for a spot in the chorus spend two hours onstage revealing their darkest secrets to an often unseen director whose disembodied voice is part God, part “Taxicab Confessions.”
The dancers’ stories must have sounded daring, risqué, sad, and perhaps a tad titillating in 1975. There are tales of broken families, cripplingly low self-esteem, and —
So the challenge facing the current Reagle Music Theatre production is how to make “A Chorus Line” feel fresh.
There are parts of the show that remain current. Would-be actors still face the unnerving anxiety of an audition. That tension is introduced immediately with the ensemble song “I Hope I Get It.” The young and plucky Reagle cast deliver that angst perfectly while grizzled director Zach (Lorenzo Lamas) barks choreography commands like a drill sergeant leading a battalion through a musical-theater battlefield.
Lamas, more closely associated with soapy programs such as “Falcon Crest,” and later tough-guy parts in “Renegade” and “Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus,” may seem like an odd choice for “A Chorus Line,” or, for that matter, any musical. But as Zach, there is no singing or dancing required. His soap-opera past is quite useful for exchanges with a former flame (Katie Clark) who turns up at the audition.
But Lamas is onstage so little that his presence does not register nearly as much as the other members of the cast. A very memorable Aimee Doherty, as the vampish Shelia, chews her way through the minimal scenery without becoming a caricature of a siren. That’s not the case for the actresses in the roles of Judy (Lilly Balch), Kristine (Maria La Rossa), and Val (Danielle Goldstein). These are parts — the dim one, the scatterbrained one, and the saucy one — that can, and do, slide into the realm of human cartoons.
Some of the most grounded portrayals come from the male actors. Young Connor Fallon has fun recalling an awkward adolescence as Mark. Matthew Michael Uriniak, as the gangly and odd Bobby, is believably fun in his weirdness.
A woefully underutilized Allison Russell (as Maggie) offers a touching performance as the girl with a sweet voice from a broken home.
“A Chorus Line” is still magnificently entertaining thanks to Marvin Hamlisch’s pop-driven score, but even with the enthusiasm mustered up by the Reagle, the show’s emotional punch has faded with time.