Friday, June 15, 2018

Everything is Beautiful

A dancer.

That had been the answer given years ago when a former boyfriend had been asked the question, "If Karen wasn't an editor, what would she have been instead?" I remember being surprised at the response while also knowing there was a kind of truth to it.

Granted, my dance training had amounted to three years at Miss Rita's School of Dance, but assuming that this was a bigger picture question, his answer wasn't far off. If I could have been exposed to real dance training, I think I'd have loved being a dancer, even given the relatively short span of a dance career.

So what better play to see to remind me of what never was than Richmond Triangle Players' production of "A Chorus Line" with my posse? The hardest part of seeing it was acknowledging that I remember when it debuted back in the dark ages of 1975.

After a stellar meal at Belmont Food Shop - the crab-topped Spring pea sformato over pea shoots was positively swoon-worthy - that began with amuse bouches of housemade pate, as well as gougeres, plus a hug from a long-time favorite chef now part of the kitchen there, we joined the throngs of theater-goers eager for one singular sensation.

I have little doubt that I saw "A Chorus Line" at the Kennedy Center back in the '70s, but the intervening four decades all but ensured that I had limited memories of it. Besides, if you lived through the '70s, you're not supposed to remember them, right?

Needless to say, I was surprised at how many of the Marvin Hamlish-penned songs besides "One" and "What I Did for Love" I knew (I Hope I Get It, I Can Do That, At the Ballet), a fact no doubt reinforced by all those Ghostlight After parties I attended at RTP where local actors got up and sang show tunes. Of course, to them "A Chorus Line" had been an "old" Broadway show, whereas to some of us, it represented the new breed of musicals that began taking over in the '70s.

But last night, it felt as rooted in the here and now as in that long-ago decade. In a nod to the 21st century, rather than cookie-cutter bodies, these dancers looked like real people of various shapes and sizes, similar only in that they could all dance and sing so well.

And while the entire cast was strong, I found my eye kept returning to Alexa Cepeda as Diana because her energy was so strong and her smile so beautiful, never more evident than when she brought down the house singing "What I Did for Love." Of course Alexander Sapp nailed the role of the imperious director, although it was hard not to miss watching him act since most of his lines were delivered from the back row.

The buzz among local theater geeks had been about how RTP was going to manage to stage this 17 actor-play on its petite stage, but I'm here to tell you they not only did, they made the audience forget its size when that chorus line was stretched out across the stage. It can't just be us wanna-be dancers who marvel at a well-executed kickline.

I may have missed out by choosing writing over dancing, but one thing I won't miss out on is seeing "A Chorus Line" a second time.

A girl can still dream of what could have been...

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