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Actor Xavier J. Bush plays "Richie" in Moonlight Amphitheatre's production of award-winning musical, "A Chorus Line." Photo by Ken Jacques Photography
Actor Xavier J. Bush plays character Richie Walters, a talented dancer who nearly became a kindergarten teacher in Moonlight Amphitheatre's production of the award-winning musical, "A Chorus Line." Photo by Ken Jacques Photography
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Pulitzer Prize-winning musical ‘A Chorus Line’ shines at Moonlight Amphitheatre

VISTA — If you look at the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “A Chorus Line” through the numbers, here’s what you’ll find:

6,137 – the number of performances on Broadway, making the musical the longest-running production until 24 – the number of dancers in the story who attend the original audition.it was surpassed by “Cats” in 1997.
17 – the number of dancers who make it to the second round.
9 – the number of Tony Awards it won in 1976.
8 – the number of dancers who make the final cut.
One – singular sensation…

OK, a little play on words, but you can see the actual play at Vista’s Moonlight Amphitheatre through Sept. 4.

The cast of “A Chorus Line” is sizable, talented and the actors give it their all, just like the characters they embody.

Casting the show was a challenge because of the need for not only “triple-threat” actors – those who can sing, dance and act – but those who fit the physical and racial profile of the characters, said Director and Choreographer Hector Guerrero.

“A Chorus Line,” the longest-running Broadway production until 1997, is playing at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista through Sept. 4. Photo by Ken Jacques Photography
“A Chorus Line,” the longest-running Broadway production until 1997, is playing at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista through Sept. 4. Photo by Ken Jacques Photography

“For instance, the role of Richie was challenging to cast,” Guerrero said. “We had to find a Black actor, singer and dancer, because there’s intense choreography, and we needed a high tenor – someone who was able to hit the high notes. We were fortunate when Xavier Bush walked into the audition.” (The only problem with Bush’s Richie is that we don’t see enough of him. He’s got the moves.)

Critics and theater historians have written that “A Chorus Line” has broad appeal because the characters’ stories resonate with everyone, not just dancers.

“I think the takeaway from this,” Guerrero said, “is that we might be different in the way we look, but we all still have the need to be loved and accepted. Whether it be to a family member, a job, a relationship or a school application.”

The character of Connie, played by Emma Park, was another role that called for a specific ethnicity.

“It was important to cast an Asian because there are not that many roles for Asians,” Guerrero said. “I keep looking until I find what I need.”

Actor Jeffrey Scott Parsons plays character Mike Costa, an Italian who learned to tap dance at a young age in Moonlight Amphitheatre's production of "A Chorus Line." Photo by Ken Jacques Photography
Actor Jeffrey Scott Parsons plays character Mike Costa, an Italian who learned to tap dance at a young age in Moonlight Amphitheatre’s production of “A Chorus Line.” Photo by Ken Jacques Photography

Luckily, the director/choreographer had an ample turnout for auditions.

“We began with 200 submitted photos and resumes and brought it down to 70 people. There were so many probably because people have not been able to work in the last year-and-a-half.”

Guerrero, who choreographed “West Side Story” in 2019 at the Moonlight, was a likely pick for “A Chorus Line,” as the production has been an integral part of his career.

“I did the show as a performer for many, many years, and assisted directors and choreographers, and am close friends with Kay Cole who played the original Maggie (in “A Chorus Line”) on Broadway,” he said.

For this production, Guerrero also has managed to duplicate the exact choreography that was created for the Broadway production, thanks to his dance “bible.”

“I have all the steps and formations written down,” he said. “It took years to build the book. I remember a lot of it, but there’s only so much my brain can retain.”

Kudos to the production’s: Lighting Designer and Technical Director Jennifer Edwards for keeping up with the frequent need for that single spotlight; Jennifer Knox for her portrayal of Cassie and the fluid, swan-like dance solo; and the entire cast for the perfectly executed, iconic ensemble-number “One.”

It definitely scores a 10.

Visit www.moonlightstage.com or call 760-724-2110.

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