Theatre Review: A Chorus Line - London Palladium ✭✭✭✭✭

A Chorus Line
Photo by Manuel Harlan
London Palladium 
Review by Claire Spence

Tuesday 26th February: An Audition. Time:1975 Place: A Broadway Theatre
A bare black stage with a single white line crossing from stage right to left is all that greets you…the lights fade to black and after a few moments they flash up to reveal an audition in full flow with a room full of dancers and the back wall now turned into a wall of mirrors. Dozens of hopefuls dance their way to be in the chorus line for the brand new musical. As Zach the director, whittles down the candidates he decides to put them through their paces not only physically but emotionally too… And as they dance and sing their way to the final eight we witness the audition process, ruthless, impersonal but necessary.
Throughout the show you love and understand these background artists that are usually nameless faces. Thankfully at the end all the characters reunite for the twenties style finale, which is so full of glitz and glamour you’d be forgiven for popping your sunglasses on for the shine which emanates from onstage.

The entire cast were amazing, in particular John Partridge is fabulous as the fierce director Zach and it’s a shame he is behind the scenes so often and you only hear his voice. Scarlett Strallen, understated as Cassie, stole the show with her solo The Music and the Mirror where she sang and danced her way into my heart, and I think into many a man’s loins with her provocative cavorting in front of a myriad of mirrors. Stage great Leigh Zimmerman is sexually sassy as veteran Sheila, but experience doesn’t necessary mean you will make the grade.

Photo by Manuel Harlan
The costumes are typical seventies dance gear reminiscent of the Jane Fonda workout videos (I brought one from a charity store – it was great!). The original lighting design by Tharon Musser, adapted by Natasha Katz, enriches the show immensely, from seventies disco to dream-like sequences and plenty of spotlights. The live orchestra adds to the richness and drama of the show and Bob Avian’s marvellous direction is one everyone will remember, for the show is fantastic.

This production of A Chorus Line is the first major staging since the original opened in Drury Lane in 1976 and boy is it worth the wait! The programme has a tribute to show’s composer, Marvin Hamlisch, whose unexpected death in August 2012 shocked the musical world and, unfortunately, Hamlisch was unable to see his creation come to fruition in the West End for the second time.

The London Palladium is a glorious theatre steeped in history since its opening in 1910 and served as a fitting venue for this showbiz show and the full house gave the performers a tremendous ovation and, I admit, I had a warm glow inside when I left.

I cannot fault this show, except perhaps the two hours run minus an interval was a tad too long, it did dip in the middle but there is no point at an interval would suit. Every person who yearns for showbusiness, or patrons who watch musicals should see this one to gain an understanding of how cut-throat and tough it is – and this is just for the chorus line.

Apologies, my review cannot express how amazing this show is and if I were you I would try and get a ticket otherwise you may have to wait another 35 years…

5 Stars ✭✭✭✭✭

Listings info

A Chorus Line
The London Palladium
8 Argyll Street, Soho, London, W1F 7TF 

Box Office 0844 412 2957 

Tickets: £19.50 - £65 

Preview prices: £10 off top three prices
Access rate: £25 

Monday – Saturday 7.45pm, Wednesday and Saturday 3pm