First, some mathematical context: I’ve seen A Chorus Line at least 18 times since 1976, the year the first national tour rolled into Chicago. Prior to last week, I was certain the brilliant show about aspiring Broadway hoofers held no more surprises. How could it? I’ve known every word, lyric, cadence, and character in this show (conceived by original director/choreographer Michael Bennett, book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban) since I was 13—i.e., for more than three-quarters of my entire life. And then Drury Lane’s production, directed by Jane Lanier, happened.
A Chorus Line Through 3/19: Wed 1:30 PM, Thu 1:30 and 8 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 2 and 6 PM, Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, 630-530-0111, drurylanetheatre.com, $85-$95
The production is an adrenaline rush from start to finish. We’re still set firmly in the 1970s, but the stories of the “kids” on the line resonate with a power that’s only intensified over the years. The production is an emotional roller coaster you won’t want to exit. Every number is a showstopper, from Mike’s (Sam Linda) taptastic solo “I Can Do That” to the glittering, all-hands-on-deck ensemble finale “One.”
In a cast of standouts, Ivory Leonard IV is incandescent as a comet as high-school standout Ritchie, a fireball of athleticism and rhythm who brings heat, power, and mighty subtext to every move and every line. Sara Andreas makes the Herculean dance/vocal solo “The Music and the Mirror” a blazing testament to artistic passion and a remarkable display of grace and endurance under pressure.
Sawyer Smith delivers comedy and pathos in the revelatory, comedically irresistible Bobby, a self-described “strange” kid who embraces his strangeness early, fiercely, and without reservation. And when Yesy Garcia sends “What I Did for Love” soaring toward the gods, it’s a benediction for the brutal, beautiful business of show.