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July 15, 1976 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-07-15

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SThursday, July 1 5, 1976 Page Five
Arts & Entertainment HE M CHIGAN DAILY
'Chorus Line': Not quite great

Spectal To The Dainy
NEW YORK - It's true. Excluding revivals, A
Chorus Line is probably the best musical current on
Broadway. The Tony-winning show (1976) is clever,
original, and enjoyable. It is not, however, on the same
level as the great musicals of the past.
A Chorus Line presents the lives of those aspiring
dancers who are auditioning for parts in a chorus
line. James Kirkwood's and Nicholas Dante's book is,
on the whole, interesting and well developed. While
occasionally dragging, the story does avoid problems
lessen scripters might have encountered. Much to their
credit, Kirkwood and Dante prevent the plot from
containing skeletal sketches of each character, instead
concentrating on developing major at the expense of
minor characters.
The score is another story. When I go to see a
musical, I want to walk out of the theater singing the
entire score. (Forgive me-I still like Richard Rod-
gers). Marvin Hamlisch's music is about as memor-
able as Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby. Leaning
towards popular jazz and rock, Hamlisch lacks that

certain something to give the music special identity.
THE SCORE is saved by the lyrics of Edward Keb-
lan and the expert choreography of director-choreo-
grapher Michael Bennett. The opening number, "I
Hope I Get It", depicts beautifully the anxieties of the
aspirants who need this minor part.
While I welcomed and enjoyed the dancing in Chorus
Line, in no way does it equal the choreography of
Jerome Robbins in West Side Story or Agnes de Mille
in Oklahoma. Bennett lacks the training and discipline
of these predecessors, and the dancing, as a result, is
not as impressively complex or polished as it might
have been.
Perhaps the musical succeeds best in its depiction
of the disappointment and frustrations of the reject-
ed. I kept recalling the movie Forty-Second Street,
where the viewer is only shown Ruby Keeler's innocent
eyes as she is picked for the line. But A Chorus Line
shows every aspect of the audition. From the young
greenhorn from Texas to the homosexual from the
lower East Side, each character has at least one
aspect of his or her life revealed to the audience.
The major characters in the show are Cassie (origi-

TABLE TALK: Just dess

WAS SITTING around at the Bridge Club, sipping a snifter of
brandy and reading Alan Truscott's latest bridge column, when
two men I'd never seen before walked in.
"We're new in the area," the older man announced to no one
in particular, "and we heard we might find a bridge game here.
For uh, shall we say, modest stakes?" Well, that last statement
caught my ear, and not wanting to give our visitors a poor
impression of the club, I volunteered. From across the room
someone echoed my words. "I'll play," he said, in a nasal voice.
I cringed at the sound of that voice, that could only have come
from one person-Philthy, the worst player in the club. Now
the thought of playing with Philthy is not of itself that awful. But
the thought of playing with him for money, my money, is terrify-
ing. I was trying to think of an excuse to back out, when Philthy
noticed my uneasiness.
"Don't worry," he said, brushing my fears aside with a wave
of his hand, "I'll cover your losses, and split the winnings with
you if you like."
It would have been rude to refuse a member who obviously
wanted so badly to play. So, being a gentleman, I accepted.
The strangers, who were anxious to play, rushed us off to a
table, and dealt the cards.
There was something strange about the two visitors, but I
couldn't quite put my finger on it. The dealer looked as if he
knew something I didn't, and I was determined to find out what.
But the cards were all dealt, and everyone else had picked theirs
up, so I put my suspicions aside, and gathered my hand.
The first rubber was uneventful, but the strangers had a big
lead .Three times they had slam hands that required specific
aces to be made, and each time, without so much as one cue-bid,
or blackwood call, the slam was bid and made. I was very
suspicious of the tall stranger. He was a nervous sort, who was
constantly fidgeting during the bidding. I thought that he might
be signalling partner, but I wasn't sure. They had been extremely
lucky, however, and I decided to watch him closely.
The next hand belonged to the opponents, and they reached
4 hearts without so much as a word from our side. The lead and
the play were completely normal (which is unusual when Philthy
is on lead and must also deefnd) until it came to the club suit.
Although I didn't know it at the time, this was the crucial suit.
Our holdings were:
North (dummy)
4 A J 10 9

had the Q and therefore played small,
announce his error, only now he wouldn't p
simply play small, allowing dummy's J to
repeat the proven finesse, and would still pit
I was, of course, furious, and wanted
convinced me that my suspicions aboutt
correct. I had been watching them, and w
I had their system figured out, and I decided
to use, to even up the score. This was the ha

A x x x
4. K J 10 x

A x x
y K Q x x x x
.. xx
A K Q J 109
x x x
* A Q x

nally Donna McKechnie; now Ann Aeinking) and Zach
(Joe Bennett). In what I thought was Michael Bennett's
best number, Cassie (Zach's former lover) tells Zach,
the director, of her lost dreams and hopes: "The
Music and the Mirror". Reinking dances with good
power and use of her body.
AFTER THE rest of the cast returns, Cassie's ex-
perience and talent is more pronounced as she stands
out in the line during the number "One". "One" is
Hamlisch's best number, and ironically the number
that the auditioners are actually auditioning in order
to participate in. Cassie must control herself to be
merely one of the crowd. The lyrics sing of a special
woman, adding ironic counterpoint.
Joe Bennett ably displays the coldness and dedica-
tion to directing that Zach must possess. Reinking,
though without a good singing voice and at times near-
ly inaudible, clearly stands out early as someone who
will be important to the show.
And she wasn't the only one who couldn't sing. The
only voice I cared for belonged to Lauree Berger,
who had only a minor role.
SOMETIMES a bad perform-
ance can ruin a perfectly good
number, to. Case in point:
"Dance: Ten, Iook: Three".
r s Kleban's tasteless btt delicious
~ V lyrics are almost lost by Bar-
bara Mont-Britton in the role
declarer would still of Val. She depended more on
lay the K. He would shrill voice and jerky move-
winy tHeK.uld then ments than her acting, singing,
win. Be woul and dancing abilities, which
k up the Q- were few and far between.
revenge. This play Most of the rest of the cats
their signalling were were adequate, with a few
as fairly certain that standing out. Two understudies,
to put my knowledge Michael Serrechia and Kath-
nd: ryann Wright were particularly
good. Serrechia played the
moviestruck Bobby, Wright the
aggressive Sheila. While I was
not totally enchanted by the
rest, it must be noted that the
second cast of a show is
East seldom as good as the original.
A A x x The setting, by Robin Wag-
1 J 10 ner, is simple but effective.
f J 10 x Six black panels serve multiple
.. x x x x x purposes, and when reversed,
become a mirror, notably for
the final scene "One".
The end of A Chorus Line is
naturally the selection of the
chorus. Here is the moment
that the cast and by now, the
hearts by North, but audience has been waiting for.
me (East). Declarer But instead of feeling glad for
r, a spade loser, and those lucky few, one only sym-
eir signals, and South pathizes with those unfortu-
his hand so that you nates who by far outnumber
weren't above strain- the lucky. Probably all will
tract, which can't be continue in their endeavors ut
derant, South'scanor for now it's back to the lives
e, and South's minor they all hoped to escape. Danc-
has set up enough ing is their profession and they
sly one problem with can't think of anything else to
layed the whole hand do.
nd a way to beat the At one point in the play, Zach
deserved it. asks the hopefuls, "What do you
to lead the A and do when you can't dance any-
He always led the A more!" Bebe, who has just
once, it would be the started out in the business, re-
a small heart, and I sponds "I can only take it one
turned the J of dia- day at a time."
ed the spade 9, but I While A Chorus Line might
ad concealed. Philthy, fall short as a great musical,
:t achane t usehis there is no doubt that its dra-
a chance to use his matic impact, even flow, and
gh to ruff the heart. poignant study of Broadway
amy, and denied him dancers earns it a spot in the
3 tricks, he still had annals of Broadway theater.
even with the 2 trick
e trick. Leba Hertz, former Dai>
ed at me. "You must slors editor now living in
Nes York, s riles about dance.
out your signals, you
deserved, and you're Join The Daily
ithout saying anything
omething about their Arts staff
led room-full of our
gantit. myPh. 764-0552
nd vwent back to my Ext 6

Now, the normal contract would be 4
this would be defeated by a diamond lead by
would have no way of avoiding a heart lose
two diamond losers for down 1. But, with th
looking in Philthy's hand (He always holds
can see it if you strain, and these strangers
ing) they managed to get to a 4 spade con
beaten since it is played from the other sid
suit tenaces are safe from attack until h
hearts to make the contract. There was o:
their plan-I knew their signals, and thus p
double dummy. Knowing all 4 hands, I fou:
hand. It was a sneaky, cheaty way, but they
The perfect defense required Philthy
another heart, but that was no problem.1
from a doubleton if he had one, and forc
right lead. He did, in fact, lead the A and
trumped small, deliberately revoking. I re
monds, and declarer won the A. He then 1
rose with the A, and returned the heart I h
who had thought he was never going to ge
little trump, pulled himself together enoui
This effectively locked declarer out of du
all those good hearts. Having already lost
to lose 3 more in the minor suits. Thus,e
adjustment for the revoke, we beat them on
"How could you have known?" he shout
have figured out our sig-."
"Precisely," I replied. "I did figurec
lowly scum cheaters. You got what you
lucky that I'm going to leave this place wi
to the others. Now leave," I said.
Still grumbling, they started to say s
money, but they looked at the now crowd
friends and fellow, members-and decided a
"What happened?" asked Philthy innoc
"Nothing to worryA bout," I eplied, i

.. Qxx

East (me)
4 x x x

.. K x x
He led the J from dummy, and when I followed low, he played
a small spade. Partner was as surprised as I when declarer
showed out, but he still managed to win the trick with his queen-
well, almost. No sooner did he play the queen, than declarer
announced he had revoked. He put the spade back in his hand
(as declarer, is allowed to) and told Philthy that he could pick
his Q back up (which was Philthy's right). The stranger then
played his K while Philthy followed low. Declarer then played
a small club fron his hand,, and finessed against my partner's
Q, which fell under the A on the next round. Declarer claimed,
and quickly dealt the cards for the next hand, while his partner
scored up the game. About midway through the deal it occurred
to me that I had just been bamboozled (by a play-known as the
Alcatraz Coup). If I had had the Q instead of Philthy, declarer
would still have picked it up. When he revoked, had Philthy not

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