When I went to London in January on a theatre tour arranged by the Stratford Festival, we saw, among other things, a much acclaimed production of Guys and Dolls, transferred to the West End from Chichester. There was no doubt, it was good, well done, especially, as I remember, the dance number before the big crap game. But it seemed to me to be almost flat and I realised that I have been utterly spoiled by the over-the-top, lavish musicals Stratford has been doing for the last couple of decades (at least). I’ve criticised them sometimes because they were too much; I didn’t like the working carousel in Carousel, for example. But…
I loved A Chorus Line. If ever a musical deserved and earned the time, effort and money spent on it, that one did, does. The show is so well written and so (still) authentic. It draws genuine care and angst out of the audience and the performers, too. We need each other to acknowledge the pain and love that goes into a creative career, at whatever level. The money has been well spent on people: dancers who can act, actors who can sing, a honed company, and a large one, all highly trained and experienced (I read all the resumés), including ten making their Stratford debut.
I don’t like standing ovations. They are too common now and rather knee-jerk. One has to stand in order to see the company because of all the other people standing who are in the way. In this case, I didn’t mind standing.