Crystal Wall, Assistant A&E Editor
When Communication sophomore Nolan Robinson was a part of the National High School Institute, also called the Cherub program, his dance teacher told him one day he could hope to play the role of Richie in “A Chorus Line.” Flash forward to his birthday this past May, Robinson saw his name on the cast list, playing none other than the role of Richie.
Robinson is just one of the several students featured in the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Art’s production of “A Chorus Line.” The iconic musical will open this Friday, November 9, and will run for three weekends in the Ethel M. Barber Theater. It features Broadway veteran Kurt Domoney, a cast member of the show’s recent Broadway revival, as the director and choreographer.
The cast has prepared for the show’s opening for over a month now, rehearsing Monday through Saturday for hours each day.
Robinson said because the show is so ensemble-driven, all cast members had to be at almost every rehearsal. While it was a large time commitment, he said these daily rehearsals kept everyone on the same page, which is important for the ambitious material featured in the show. While there was a steep learning curve, Robinson said he is now at his vocal peak.
“I realized that the song (“Gimme the Ball”) was inspired by Aretha Franklin—that’s why it goes so high,” Robinson said. “I had to work my butt off over the summer to make sure that I was able to sing Aretha Franklin notes, and it paid off.”
While Robinson is vocally thriving, Communication senior Chloé Nadon-Enriquez said she hasn’t been this fit since she was 15 years old. Trained as a classical ballerina into her teens, Nadon-Enriquez is no novice to choreography. Even so, she said this show is full of physically demanding, cardio-intensive dance numbers that she had to train to get through.
Nadon-Enriquez is performing in the role of Diana Morales, a character well-engraved in the musical theater canon with Broadway stars such as Natalie Cortez making the role famous. Nadon-Enriquez said she was terrified to take on the role at first, as she was afraid she wouldn’t be able do the part justice.
“I’m obsessed with Natalie Cortez,” Nadon-Enriquez said. “Her first musical was ‘Cats’ when she was four, as was mine when I was four. I want to light up the stage the way she does.”
To discover her own unique version of Diana, Nadon-Enriquez and Domoney worked on finding her own interpretation of the music and text.
As a cast member of the Broadway revival, Domoney is familiar with Nadon-Enriquez’s material as well as the show as the whole, and said he is excited to work on it in an academic setting. In this production, he chose to lean into the show’s setting of the ‘70s through its costumes and orchestrations, while embracing the fantasy elements of the show through the lighting and set design.
Domoney said he hopes the audience will ask why the show is relevant now, as the show, he said, is a call to action. The arc of the ensemble of dancers, once referred to as chorus boys and girls, give a voice to the voiceless, he said.
“It’s about truly what it means to be on a line and cross lines of comfortability in our work, to really put yourself out there for something you love,” Domoney said. “There is an element that all we have is borrowed time to do these things we are passionate about.”