Pauper Players Renew Choreography for 'Line'

Few of us will ever know the intense pressures involved with being a Broadway performer. Audition to audition, they pray for a job to pay the bills and reaffirm their commitment to a profession plagued by rejection.

The Pauper Players are bringing the unique stories of these singers and dancers to the stage of Playmakers Theatre with their production of "A Chorus Line," the famous, dance-intensive musical by choreographer Michael Bennett.

Director Paul Hudson, a senior dramatic art major, pitched the show last spring for consideration for production this fall. "I just loved it since I was a child," Hudson said. "I grew up dancing, and it's just a show that I really connected to and I thought could be really interesting to bring to a college campus because it's all about diversity and acceptance."

The show begins at a typical dance audition with the jittery participants voicing their nervousness through song. After an initial cut, the director decides to test them to determine who will act in the show and who will merely dance.

The 17 remaining characters tell their stories, which are based on real dancers' experiences, and in a truly democratic way, none dominate over the others.

To the show's choreographer, Spanish and dramatic art major Sofia Vallila, this displays the show's true spirit. "The finale is a dance with all of the characters," she said. "The chorus line is supposed to be completely uniform, and they aren't supposed to have any kind of individual characteristic, but essentially the audience now knows they each have their own story."

This particular production tries to incorporate some of that same appreciation for diverse talents.

Hudson cites the efforts of the entire cast and crew as essential to his vision of the production. "I wanted all the production staff and the actors that create a show together so it wouldn't be my show with them coming into it," he said.

The cast members all sing and dance in the production, but not all of them could do both before. "There's such a range," Vallila said. "Most of the boys have never danced, so they're starting from scratch. Some of the girls have never danced, and some of them have taken dance from when they were 4 years old."

Vallila herself was permitted to incorporate her dance training into the show. None of the original Broadway or film choreography was used, leaving Vallila to choreograph the show by herself. "(Hudson) just wanted me to take it where I wanted to. He was very open," she said.

But she's also a bit apprehensive that past performances have wormed their way into in her brain. "I'm curious to watch the movie because I wonder when I see it if I'll say, 'Oh, I was completely wrong!'" she said with a laugh.

"A Chorus Line" runs at 8 p.m. today through Sunday at Playmakers Theatre. A matinee performance is set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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