Well, there you are. After a stretch of less than wonderful years at the Hollywood Bowl, the venue serves up the best evening for me...perhaps ever. Okay, I may be gushing a bit too much. Maybe their rendition of "A Chorus Line" wasn't as great as I thought it was. And perhaps some of the other shows over the past several years weren't as bad as I remembered. But, who cares? Their production last weekend of the legendary "A Chorus Line" was a terrific surprise. Broadway quality three thousand miles away.
Everybody has seen some version of "A Chorus Line" in their life, right? Right? For me, the number of times being in the audience is probably five or six. At one point, it was my official "date" show. You know, there's a girlfriend and you don't feel things are complete until you've seen "A Chorus Line" together. Or something stupid like that. Well, anyway, the show is always magical. I did not see the recent 2006 revival, but I have seen several times the spectacular documentary about its casting called "Every Little Step." It was an ingenious film. How to cast people into a show business job that is all about being cast in a show business job. Check that movie out when you can.
So, when the Hollywood Bowl does "A Chorus Line" as its annual Broadway show production, I'm in. And glad I was. Too bad there's no current girlfriend to share this one with. But I did go with a couple of very talented actor pals, who definitely can identify with grueling auditions and callbacks.
Let me do a little housekeeping before I press further. The Hollywood Bowl sells programs for a dollar and I usually don't buy one. No, I'm not that cheap. When it comes to a concert, I like to be surprised about what I am going to hear next. So, as per usual, I didn't pop the buck for a program. And later lamented that I didn't. Because I was dying to know who was in the cast and totally delighting me with their performances.
First up is Mario Lopez. Yes, that Mario Lopez. A.C. Slater from "Saved by the Bell" and a thousand other TV shows. I knew he had played Zach the director as a replacement recently on Broadway. But I didn't expect him to be as terrific a musical stage performer as he was. I mean, he was on "Saved by the Bell." Right? His sweat was figuratively and literally up on the Bowl stage for all to see. It was an usually humid night in Los Angeles and the cast was soaking through their dance leotards. There was some microphone outages as a result. Luckily, no one wound up like Gary Gilmore.
Had I bought a program I would have known that Cassie was being played by one Sarah Bowden who has done the role countless times and is apparently a renowned musical comedy star in Berlin, Germany! I was exhausted just watching her perspire intensely during the "Music and the Mirror" dance number. Had I bought a program I would have known that Sheila was being played by Leigh Zimmerman and that I had seen her on Broadway with Nathan Lane in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."
Had I parted with one sawbuck I would have known that much of the production staff from the 2006 revival were working at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend. So, too, were many of those cast members.
And on and on and on. Had I only purchased a program.
Indeed, other than A.C. Slater, the only actor I did recognize was Jason Tam in the pivotal role of Paul San Marcos. Those who saw the aforementioned documentary will remember his stirring audition for the 2006 revival. That scene is a major set piece in the documentary. Again, had I spent the almighty dollar for a program I would have learned that he also spent several years on TV's "One Life to Live" which means I know people who probably know him.
Tomato, tomatoes. Whether I remember them or not, they were all great and major contributors to a stunning evening of entertainment. You would think that a show which is so incredibly intimate might be swallowed up by the Hollywood Bowl cavern. Not so. And, of course, the big screens not only helped, but they enhanced our enjoyment of the story.
There were no show-ending fireworks at the Bowl, but the rendition of the "One" finale gave us all the explosives we needed. Well, here it is. Pardonez-moi the shitty camera movement. It's not my handiwork.
Bravo, Hollywood Bowl. You've reset the bar for yourselves. And it's uncommonly high.
Oh, and how can any review of "A Chorus Line" not include this?
Marvin Hamlisch, we miss you.
Dinner last night: Leftover grilled sausage and salad.