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Camille Playhouse prepares to raise curtain on “A Chorus Line”

January 28, 2019

The Camille Playhouse is gearing up to give audiences an intimate look into the world of Broadway performers with “A Chorus Line,” which will be on stage Feb. 1-10.

The musical features the stories of dancers auditioning for spots in a Broadway show. Chris Ikner, Camille Playhouse artistic director, said it’s an important show for the community to see, particularly at the start of a new year.

“In addition to dancing, singing and acting, (the director) is having them tell stories about themselves,” Chris Ikner, Camille Playhouse artistic director, explained, “so they have to open up and be real people … and the audience gets to see the whole process.”

Ikner said “A Chorus Line” was developed from real experiences in the theater world. He said anyone can relate to the themes explored in the show, such as a noting a moment in the musical when an injury forces a dancer to leave the audition. The moment spurs the characters to ponder what they would do if they could no longer dance.

“That resonates with everyone because we all have that thing we use to define ourselves … that makes us who we truly are,” he said. “It’s timeless. It kind of helps us get back in touch with who we are and why we do what we do.”

Choreographer Isabella Barrios said the cast has worked well together and is picking up moves quickly.

“Everyone in this cast is always willing to put in 150 percent to get what they need to get,” she said.

Ikner called the group a “dream cast.”

“It’s always been a dream of mind to do ‘A Chorus Line.’ You really, really have to make sure you have the talent to do the show because there’s no set,” he said, adding that the 2-hour-15-minute show is performed with no intermission. “It’s told in real time. It’s all the actors here and now.”

REAL CHARACTERS

Allison Boyle is taking on the role of Sheila Bryant, a character she apprehensive about playing at first.

“I’ve never played a character like Sheila before. She’s very strong and very intimidating,” Boyle said. “She’s one of the oldest on the chorus line. It seems like her last hurrah, but she’s very talented and she knows it.”

Boyle dug into her research for the role and watched videos with the original 1975 cast of “A Chorus Line,” for which the actress who played Sheila won a Tony Award.

“I hope people come and see what it’s like and what our world is,” she said. “Just because they don’t recognize the show name doesn’t mean they shouldn’t come. They should not be afraid to see something new and exciting.”

Sam Allen will play Paul San Marco, who he described as a gay man who has “struggled with his sexuality and what it means to be a man.” The character moves from Puerto Rico to Chicago to pursue a dance career, where he finds steady work performing as a woman. Paul’s story crescendos after revealing his visiting parents accidentally saw him in costume.

“He’s finding himself and trying to fulfill his dreams of being a performer,” Allen said. “I think this will give people a lot of insight into the world of Broadway performers and artists in general. I think it’s important for everyone to see love is what makes these people work.”

Caty Wantland, who is stepping into the role of Cassie Ferguson, is a dance teacher and choreographer by trade. She said being part of “A Chorus Line” has been allowed her to feel like part of a dance company again while adding singing and acting to her repertoire.

“It’s been a really beautiful feeling,” she said. “I almost just don’t want the show to open. I want to keep dancing with these people.”

She said Cassie is a dancer who set out from New York from Los Angeles to be a star, but her dream didn’t work out.

“I think a lot of people go into performance with a lot of ambition. She recognizes that she’s a dancer and doesn’t need the celebrity part of it,” Wantland said.

She said people will find a connection watching other community members on stage during “A Chorus Line” that audiences can’t get from a movie.

“Here the caliber is insane. It’s something you would see in a larger city, but we’re doing it for free because we’re passionate about performance and passionate about storytelling,” Wantland said. “We’re bagging your groceries or teaching your kids or serving you coffee. It’s a special community.”

Get tickets to “A Chorus Line” at www.camilleplayhouse.net . Prices range from $10 to $20.

nadia@brownsvilleherald.com

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