Few Broadway plays have garnered more Tony awards than the 1974 classic, A Chorus Line

With eight Tony awards, the show continues to thrill countless theater patrons year after year throughout the world. It is currently playing at the Stratford Theatre, and is at the same time the feature presentation of the Arts Collective Theater’s Student Intensive Project for 2016, here in Windsor.

On Friday night it opened for an eight performance run in the wonderfully restored Walkerville Theater on Wyandotte Street East in Walkerville.

Under the artistic direction of local Windsor theater veteran, Chris Rabideau, this cast of more than 17 young actors and actresses drew from local talent pool of high school and University of Windsor students. A full orchestra under the direction of musical director Nino Palazzolo, was in full force.

The storyline of A Chorus Line is described in Wikipedia:

The show opens in the middle of an audition for an upcoming Broadway production. The formidable director Zach and his assistant choreographer Larry put the dancers through their paces. Every dancer is desperate for work (“I Hope I Get It”). After the next round of cuts, 17 dancers remain. Zach tells them he is looking for a strong dancing chorus of four boys and four girls. He wants to learn more about them, and asks the dancers to introduce themselves. With reluctance, the dancers reveal their pasts. The stories generally progress chronologically from early life experiences through adulthood to the end of a career.”

As will sometimes happen for opening night performances in amateur theatre, there were some first act sound gremlins that prevented a clear hearing of some of the isolated monologues. These issues were addressed during intermission and fixed, providing an outstanding and rousing second act performance.

Kudos go out to all actors and actresses, musicians, technical staff and stagehands. This is not an easy play to execute. There is plenty of grueling choreography, challenging songs and relentless standing for hours on stage by the performers. But one performer left me spellbound.

Nick Palazzolo plays the role of Paul. Nick is a young 14-year-old Walkerville high school student who is learning local and piano at the Royal Conservatory of music it is in the WCCA program for drama and vocal. Even at his young age, he is already a veteran of the stage having appeared in The Little Mermaid, Anything Goes, and Joseph And the Technicolor Dream Coat. But, It is in his current role as Paul that Nick has emerged as a performer to watch for in years to come.

His performance monologue left the audience emotionally breathless. In his monologue Zach calls Paul, a young and shy Puerto Rican, on stage, and he emotionally relives his childhood and high school experience, his early career in a drag act, coming to terms with his manhood and his homosexuality, and his parents’ ultimate reaction to finding out about his lifestyle. Paul breaks down and is comforted by Zach. And I, along with many other patrons, broke down with him.

A big shout out to the great work being done in our community for both the leadership of the Arts Collective Theatre, as well as its fortunate participants. As described on the Arts Collective Website, “the Arts Collective Theatre Student Intensive (ACTSI) is an annual musical mentorship program. Students will be given the opportunity to work with professionals who are working in the field of theatre or alongside members of the Windsor – Essex community who have experience through active engagement within the arts.  Each mentor will be given a student(s) to mentor.”

A Chorus Line plays on October 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22 at 7:30pm and October 16 & 23 at 2:00pm. at the Olde Walkerville Theatre Tickets available online.

Ticket prices are Students/Seniors $20, Adults $28

Feature photo by Gene Schilling

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