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‘A CHORUS LINE’ comes to Iowa Central

Musical takes audience behind the scenes

February 26, 2012
By JOE SUTTER, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

This Wednesday, enter into the hectic backstage lives of aspiring Broadway performers as the Iowa Central Community College Performing Arts Department brings "A Chorus Line" to the stage.

Director Teresa Jackson explained the show's premise.

"Basically, the show is an audition," she said. "The 17 dancers selected to audition for the eight spots (in the chorus line) begin to talk - and sing, since it is a musical - about who they are, what they were like growing up, and what led them to dancing and singing and acting."

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Cast members of the Iowa Central Community College production of “A Chorus Line,” prepare to run through a dress rehearsal recently. The classic musical, which debuted in 1975, is about Broadway dancers auditioning for spots in a chorus line. Performances at Iowa Central begin on Wednesday.

The large dance numbers brought challenges and opportunities for the real-life cast.

"For me, it's really hard to remember all the dancing," said Chloe Peterson. "But my character is supposed to be a really good dancer; she's already danced on Broadway."

Tyler Thompson said the dancing aspect has been his favorite part.

Fact Box

If you go:

What: "A Chorus Line," Iowa Central spring musical

Where: Decker Auditorium, Iowa Central Campus

When: 1 p.m. Wednesday; 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Tickets: $10 adults; $5 students K-12th grade; free to ICCC students. Tickets are available at the door the night of performance, or contact the Iowa Central Bookstore between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, (800)?362-2793, ext. 1081.

"I'm not trained as a dancer, but it's fun to dance a lot for the show," he said. "Last year I was in 'Hairspray,' and we did quite a bit of dancing, but this takes it to another level."

Thompson is a 20-year-old sophomore. He plans to attend the University of Northern Iowa next year and major in theater and communications.

Freshman Taryn O'Tool plays the part of assistant choreographer. She got into the show because of the dancing.

"My dance coach, Cassidy Vermeer, persuaded me to join," said O'Tool. "I'm on the dance team; that's how I got tied into this. This is my first musical here, but I did the fall play. Getting to know all of the people in the musical department I think is the best part; we have a lot of fun together."

Rick Wilson enjoyed the subject of the play itself.

"I like that it shows the behind-the-scenes of what really happens in an audition process; it's a really real-life musical," he said. "It's not like, hey, this is all flashy and dancy; this is the nitty-gritty about a musical, it's cutthroat. It's rough and it's hard."

Jackson said "A Chorus Line" has won numerous awards, and remains one of the longest-running productions in Broadway history.

"I was in college when this musical hit Broadway, so this show is a walk down memory lane for me," she said.

The musical is unusual in many ways, she said. For one thing, the subject matter is a bit more mature than usual.

"When (it) first premiered, the topics it covered were quite controversial - issues of sexuality, plastic surgery and frank talk regarding adolescence. Today, the topics are not as taboo, but we are warning audiences that some of the subject matter might not be appropriate for students in elementary and middle school."

Audiences also may be surprised that the show has no driving, connected story line.

"One unusual feature of 'A Chorus Line' is that the show is episodic in nature," she said.

Jackson also said that this will be the first show that takes place on Decker Auditorium's brand new stage floor.

Stage Manager Sara Patterson said the upgrade was one her favorite parts of this show.

"Putting in the floor over winter break was a huge thing for me," Patterson said. "It was so much fun, because before it was the hardwood floor, like a basketball floor. This Masonite black floor looks a lot more professional, and it's a lot easier to work with. It makes lighting a lot easier because it doesn't reflect as much."

Patterson is a sophomore theater major, and is transferring to the University of Iowa next fall. She said she had done some on stage acting in high school, but in 10th grade she tried being stage manager and fell in love with the role.

"It's kind of an unsung hero thing," she said. "I make sure that all the set changes look good, that they go at the right time, and all the pieces in the right place."

She doesn't feel the need to be in the limelight herself, she said. "I like making sure the limelight is on the right character."

The cast clearly has some good rapport.

O'Tool said, "We have a lot of fun with Teresa (Jackson); I think she's a very good director."

And Jackson said, "I have absolutely loved working with our cast this year. The students are hard-working, motivated and very cohesive. I love how they support each other, and I look forward to coming to every rehearsal. They work hard, and we all have fun in the process."

Contact Joe Sutter at (515) 573-2141 or



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