Musical review: A Chorus Line, The Royale Theatre, WA

First performed in 1975, this hit musical continues to remain relevant in the contemporary performing arts scene.

A Chorus Line is a raucous musical about performers discovering themselves and each other, and revealing their hopes, dreams and fears, while auditioning for a new show. It is a musical comedy about the aspirations and anxieties of performing artists, with a script that focuses on each performer’s story and music that variously provokes, titillates, exhilarates, amuses and evokes pathos. It was first performed on Broadway in 1975, and turned into a movie in 1985. 

Produced and directed by Drew Anthony, this Perth production exudes brilliance, verve and passion. The local actor/singers are in a class apart and do such a marvellous job, it’s hard not to be astonished at the talent of both the established and the emerging artists, and the perfect confluence of the two in this production. The show runners have upturned the formula used by the Broadway musical and movie, and cast actors of diverse ages and career stages in this rendition, with a mesmerising result.

The production stays true to its US roots, and the Australian actors do a marvellous job of recreating the sound and feel of the US landscape populated by the idiosyncratic characters, extending from New York to California. The smooth acting and sizzling chemistry between the performers, from the moment of their initial prep for their audition to the final revelation of the results, are complemented by their superb vocal performances and comic timing. 

It would be difficult to do justice to commending each performance individually, but Ethan Churchill, Elethea Sartorelli, Emma Haines, Ciara Taylor, Lucy Goodrick, Morgan Cowling, Greg Jarema, Sophie Psaila-Savona, among others, put in sterling vocal performances, expertly making the famous songs of this musical truly their own. Every major and minor part is played superbly, and it’s a delight to witness the strength and diversity of the talent. The musical direction and supervision, along with the choreography, stage design, costume design, lighting and sound all work flawlessly together. 

While the musical was originally conceived and performed in the 1970s, its universal themes remain relevant today, surely resonating with many in the contemporary performing arts scene. Each performer, whatever their background and previous experience, surely still grapples with the same anxieties and fears, inflected by the vagaries of working in the arts. 

In fact, this is central to the theatre-goer’s experience of this musical. There is a powerful reflexivity in this story about incredibly talented performers (played by incredibly talented performers here in Perth) overcoming challenges and hurdles to make it in the world of the performing arts.

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We celebrate when they find opportunities to tell their story and let their genius and talent shine, and we commiserate with them when, in the penultimate scene, despite their undoubted brilliance, they find themselves left out of the eponymous chorus line. The actor/singers draw you in with their beautiful performances, making you their allies and champions in the fraught but rewarding world of the theatre. This is truly a show for all theatre lovers and they will certainly love this production.

A Chorus Line
The Royale Theatre at Planet Royale, WA
Writers: James Kirkwood Jr and Nicholas Dante
Director: Drew Anthony
Music Supervisor: Joe Louis Robinson
Vocal Director: Glenn Hogue

Choreographer: Jessica Ashton
Sound Designer: Jordan Gibbs
Lighting Designer: Luke Scatchard
Costume Designer: Dani Paxton
Stage Manager: Jasmyn Day
Producer: Drew Anthony Creative

Cast: G Madison IV, Morgan Cowling, Ethan Churchill, Greg Jarema, Elethea Sartorelli, Allen Blachford, Ciara Taylor, Lana Freeman, Will Basson, Rosemary Spelman, Jamie Papanicolaou, Zak Bresland, Lucy Goodrick, Gemma Hanh, Sophie Psaila-Savona, Emma Haines, Jamie Rolton, Alysha Cheetam-Taylor, Ruby Voss, Ethan Ward, Lily Stewart, Sienna Ricketts-Kendrick, Zak Rolton, Jessie Counsel, Lauren Day, Emma Flemming, Mary Klemm, Ella MacLeod, Erin Robertson

Tickets: $89-$99

A Chorus Line will be performed until 20 August 2023

Arjun Rajkhowa lives in Perth and enjoys writing about local arts and culture.