We saw A Chorus Line at Santa Rosa JC tonight. It's the third of six plays I've seen by this year's Summer Repertory Theatre company, and they've all been excellent. I expect nothing less from these young people, since I've been going to their shows for many years and have never been disappointed. At times I've been overwhelmed by the talent and dedication shown in this short, intense six-week summer session. A few years back they did the most compelling version of The Crucible I've ever seen.
Because of budget constraints, they haven't been doing as many big productions in recent years, but that just opens the field to more intimate, progressive plays, like some of the ones I'll be seeing in the next two weeks.
Obviously, A Chorus Line doesn't fall into that category. It's one of only two musicals (along with Peter Pan) that they're doing this season, and it doesn't work unless you can almost see the stage expand from the early rehearsal scenes to the production number that plays the actors off at the end.
But a show like this isn't about production values as much as it's about the performers themselves. Jenn Colella, who was so marvelous as Peter Pan, was a sassy, brassy Val in this show, and Carianne Wrona thrilled the audience with her vocal talent in the role of Diana. (If I could sing like that, I'd never want to do anything else.) Diego Garcia was an appropriately touching Paul, whose quietly moving monologue is always a scene I look forward to. Actors playing actors seem to bring a little extra to their performances.
I can't help it. I love the big Broadway musicals. I like going to see the serious dramas and experimental plays as well, but I always look forward to seeing how the familiar musical shows are staged, and to hearing the songs I know. I just learned today that the Santa Rosa Players, a community group whose building was sold out from under them, have found a new location and will be doing Oliver! in September. I'm looking forward to seeing it.