Taking a closer look at Madison theater
Aug 14, 2014
11:53 AMStage Write
Three Surprising Things: Middleton Players' 'A Chorus Line'
OHOTO COURTESY OF MIDDLETON PLAYERS THEATRE
"We're community theater," says the show's director. "Some people don't like that, but we embrace it."
One of the greatest things about live local theater is its power to surprise us, to defy our expectations and shake our sense of what we think we know. That said, sometimes it’s not a bad idea to have at least a little sense of what you’re getting into when the lights go down. Middleton Players Theatre is halfway through its run of Marvin Hamlisch’s classic musical A Chorus Line, but director Matt Starika still took some time from keeping his dancers in line to talk about a trio of key facts about the show. He can do that. And he didn’t even have to run seven blocks with extra socks.
1. The show features the original Michael Bennett Broadway choreography.
It was a very conscious design choice, says Starika. “A Chorus Line is one of those musicals that people know and have a high expectation of. Anything less than that isn’t the show.”
So choreographer Sarah Bartlett recreated the show’s difficult dance moves step by painstaking step, and the cast worked to master them.
“It was definitely a challenge,” says Starika. “But they did it. Like I told the cast in dress rehearsals, ‘Broadway has nothing on you.’”
2. The cast and crew feature two actors who performers with the Radio City Rockettes in New York.
One of them is Bartlett, who spent three years rockin’ it with the Rockettes. The other is Amy Ruth, a fifteen-year Rockettes vet. In the show, Ruth plays the key role of Cassie, the former girlfriend of Zach, the infamous director.
“Having that kind of expertise can never hurt,” says Starika.
3. The cast is completely local.
Well, as long as you’re willing to bend your definition a little to include the two former Middleton residents who have returned from New York to perform in the show. Still, given the number of roles in the show, the local tilt is more evidence that there’s a big pool of local talent to stage shows like this.
“As the output of our shows has grown [Middleton Players staged two shows this year instead of the customary one] we’ve seen that these actors want to come and be in our shows,” says Starika. “We’re community theater. Some people don’t like that, but we embrace it. We’re finding that more and more people want to do things like buy and invest locally, and that extends to theater.”
After this weekend’s slate of shows Middleton Players turn their attention to their landmark twenty-fifth anniversary season, a docket that’ll see them extend the number of shows they’ll stage to three. It starts with a May 2015 joint performance of Carousel with the Middleton Chamber Orchestra. In June, they’ll tackle Miss Saigon—and yes, we’re hoping for an actual helicopter—before finishing up with Legally Blonde: The Musical in August.
A Chorus Line runs August 14, 15 and 16 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center. You can find more information on the show here.