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'Chorus Line' opens at Aurora Theatre

Photo: Andrew McMurtrie. Actors in "A Chorus Line" perform during a preview showing at the Aurora Theatre on Tuesday in Lawrenceville. The  Aurora Theatre opened its 16th season with its newest show, which is a  winner of 9 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. For more information, visit www.auroratheatre.com.

Photo: Andrew McMurtrie. Actors in "A Chorus Line" perform during a preview showing at the Aurora Theatre on Tuesday in Lawrenceville. The Aurora Theatre opened its 16th season with its newest show, which is a winner of 9 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. For more information, visit www.auroratheatre.com.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The Aurora Theatre opened its 16th season with the Broadway classic "A Chorus Line" on Thursday. It's the largest musical the venue has ever produced -- 26 actors and a live band hidden in the loft above the stage.

The Aurora Theatre has been working on the difficult musical for only four weeks with local metro Atlanta actors, plus two from New York (David Rossetti and Brance Cornelius) to create a seamless performance.

"There are certain skills you have to have obviously to do the show," said Artistic Director and Producer Anthony Rodriguez. "We couldn't find everyone we needed in town, so we went out of town."

This is a difficult show for any dancer. It runs more than two hours without an intermission or many chances to sit or rest. Plus, the performers are constantly singing and dancing all over the stage.

"I have a granddaughter who dances, but this is so much more professional," said Barbara Schmidt, audience member. "It's fabulous."

Whether you've never seen the show or it's your favorite musical, the Aurora Theatre takes it to the next level with the hard-working cast. David Rossetti (Paul San Marco) and Pamela Gold (Cassie Ferguson) dominate the stage. Each has worked on the Aurora stage prior to "A Chorus Line" and continuously shine in the spotlight.

The two characters they play (Paul and Cassie) have their own issues that are highlighted and the audience begins to feel their pain through a one-on-one dialogue with Zach, the director running the audition (played by Rodriguez). The audience is drawn in through empathy for the dancers and their mishaps in life.

"A Chorus Line" was originally released to the stage in 1975. Aurora's performance has been adapted to the smaller stage for the theater and updated to the current times.

"I saw this play 35 years ago in New York," said Helen Wheat, who was in the audience. "They changed the different people around because of the change in time and they did a beautiful job."

The story takes you through a journey of Broadway dancers auditioning for a spot in the chorus line while never giving up on "what they do for love." And in the 250-seat auditorium, you'll feel that you're actually sitting through a real audition.

Each character has their own story of where they came from and how they fell in love with dancing. Some wanted to be ballerinas at the ballet, others wanted to get out of their broken homes, and the rest just remember dancing whenever music filled the air.

The topics covered range from homosexuality to abusive parents to child molestation to teenage angst. Not many people can relate to professional dancers, but every one can see themselves in at least one of the characters portrayed in the show.

The language and context is too mature for younger audiences. The Aug. 24 and Sept. 1 shows are already sold out.