Director Drew Downing talks A Chorus Line
A Chorus Line. You’ve no doubt seen it, you’ve no doubt heard it, many of you have no doubt been in the line up at some point. Here we are again with another production of this classic but this time it comes with a twist, a reinvented version that makes use of Panorama’s abundance of talented youth. Drew downing explains why this show is worth your dollars…
So why has the company decided to produce A Chorus Line ? ‘Originally they didn’t’ says Drew. We had another project in mind which fell through. Panorama is an excellent platform for young performers and the show had never been in contention for the company to produce. However we have produced a ‘reimagining’ of the show which has made it a viable vehicle for the company and what they stand for’.
Panorama have decided to produce and market the show in the style of So You Think You Can Dance, and it has paid off big time. Drew makes particular reference to a number of the characters that he believes are often overlooked in the show. ‘We’ve tried to amplify the humour within the show; working with what already exists and turning up the volume so to speak. We have some fantastic comedic performers in the show including the likes of Mel Ott, Tara Kabalan and Sarah Fortnham.’ ‘Above all’ notes Drew, ‘the musical numbers look and sound fantastic thanks to Karen Taylor-Pottinger and Dean Pratt.’
Traditionally A Chorus Line is a show that although complex in its writing is a simple show to both stage and direct. However, Drew as director and with the company’s ‘youth in mind’ has taken to staging the show with both youth and older versions of characters which as Drew suggests has made the staging ‘an intense process’. ‘We are using live feed cameras and screens (ala So You Think You Can Dance) to give a strong multimedia concept to the show. Also, we have the orchestra onstage and a brilliant lighting designer who is already making A Chorus Line something special.’
Drew speaks of the rich history and development of the script as awe inspiring. So how has he gone about contemporising the show it order to make it marketable to a Panorma audience? ‘Whilst keeping the overall identity and beliefs of each character, we have embellished deliveries and routines’. Drew is quick to mention that this has posed a challenge to many of his cast members who came into the rehearsal process with preconceived ideas about their characters and the way in which they expected to perform them. The results as he puts it ‘have been very good’.
As a first time director you could forgive Drew if he had chosen to stick to the norm and not push the boundaries of the show, however Drew believes that as a director of any show you need to give your own work something special artistically and push the boundaries. ‘ Although this is my first time directing within the amateur community, other directors such as Paul Watson and Neil Goodwin have shown the benefits of adding just that “bit” more to a show. This is something that I have always admired.’
‘We’ve tried to create a reflective element to the show based on the theme of “what I did for love”. This has allowed us to feature a Youth Cast who really must be seen to be believed.”
Not one to give away his secrets, Drew refuses to tell us of the show stopping moments, however he insists there are many and that ‘the youth cast are to die for; very cute and very talented.’
So is A Chorus Line still relevant these days? And is it reflective of the Broadway casting process or has it been glamorised?
‘Tough question’ say Drew. ‘Well I have no idea how the casting process on Broadway works, however I assume it follows the same formula as casting an Australian show. Some of our cast members are actively involved in the dance and performance industry and have been able to relate to many aspects of the opening scene.
So is the show still relevant? Well that is up to the readers! One thing is for certain though A Chorus Line is sure going to give you one hell of a nights entertainment.
Panorama Theatre Company
“A CHORUS LINE”
FRANKSTON ARTS CENTRE
Thursday 23rd September @ 8PM
Friday 24th September @ 8PM
Saturday 25th September @8PM
Sunday 26th September @ 2PM
Bookings through Frankston Arts Centre on 9784 1060