Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park's Moe and Jack’s Place—The Rouse Theatre, the centerpiece of the $50 million Mainstage Theater Complex, opens with a new production of the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Chorus Line. Helmed by Artistic Director Blake Robison, the production officially opens March 16 following previews that began March 11.
The cast is led by Shiloh Goodin (Paradise Square) as Cassie and Drew Lachey (98 Degrees, Dancing with the Stars) as Zach with Courtney Arango as Diana Morales, Diego Guevara as Paul, Rei Akazawa-Smith as Lois Dilettante, Evan Autio as Larry, Maria Briggs as Maggie Winslow, Claire Camp as Judy, Erin Chupinsky as Sheila Bryant, Maurice Dawkins as Mike Costa, Nicolas de la Vega as Butch Barton, Jonathan Duvelson as Richie Walters, Derek Ege as Mark Anthony, Joseph Fierberg as Gregory Gardener, Francesca Granell as Bebe Benzenheimer, Musa Hitomi as Connie Wong, Cameron Holzman as Don Kerr, Jalen Michael Jones as Frank, Taylor Lane as Tricia, Jacob Major as Al Deluca, Zoë Maloney as Vicki Vickers, Matthew Marvin as Roy, Alexa Racioppi as Val Clark, Matthew Ranaudo as Bobby Mills, Antonia Raye as Kristine Urich, and Sammy Schechter as Tom Tucker. Understudies are Jenna Bienvenue, Haley Haskin, and Christopher Wells.
This new production of the 1975 Broadway musical features choreography by Alex Sanchez (Paradise Square) and set design by The Elephant Man's Tim Mackabee, who has envisioned a stage that transforms from a rehearsal/audition studio into a more traditional theatre stage as the story unfolds.
Sanchez said in an earlier statement, “When I was talking to Blake about the show, he expressed wanting to do a new take on A Chorus Line and how it could be accomplished choreographically. At the time, I had just worked on creating new choreography for a production of West Side Story in Chicago. The way that I approached both iconic works is by diving into the narrative, intention, and event of the moment. Capturing the spirit and being true to the story is what will make the creation of new movement feel like it's part of the original story.”
“We haven't changed a single word or lyric in this production,” added Robison. “But I think that audiences will see the characters responding to the situation in a more contemporary way. Auditions don't happen the way they did in 1975 anymore. And so, we set our production in an audition studio, not on a mythic empty stage. Today's dancers are much more athletic. You'll see that in Alex Sanchez's superb new choreography. And I hope you'll get a sense that our dancers endure this unusually grueling audition process with more personal agency.”
The creative team also includes music director-conductor-orchestral arranger Andrew Smithson, costume designer Kathleen Geldard, lighting designer Jaymi Lee Smith, sound designer David Bullard, associate conductor-associate music director Steve Goers, and casting director Stephanie Klapper. Andrea L. Shell is the stage manager, Brooke Redler is the second stage manager, and Mary Kathryn Flynt is the assistant stage manager.
Originally directed by Michael Bennett, who choreographed with Bob Avian, A Chorus Line has a book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch, and lyrics by Edward Kleban. The original Broadway production won nine 1976 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, as well as the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
While the opening of A Chorus Line celebrates a resurgence of live theatre, the Playhouse spent the pandemic ramping up its work to finance and build its new theatre.