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The Valley Line: Theater at its best

June 10, 2010|By Jane Napier Neely

Last week was a bonanza for musical theater aficionados with the opening of two major Broadway revivals. On Tuesday night, "A Chorus Line" opened to a sold-out crowd at Hollywood's historic Pantages Theatre.

Rogers and Hammerstein's endearing musical "South Pacific" opened at the Ahmanson Theatre on Wednesday night to an equally packed and wildly enthusiastic house.

"A Chorus Line," which opened on Broadway in 1975 and has won nine Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for drama, has not lost its magnetic attraction and is as compelling and fresh as when it first opened. "A Chorus Line" was revived on Broadway in 2006.

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It features 19 main characters and is set on a bare stage of a Broadway theater during an audition for a musical. The show provides a glimpse into the personalities of the performers and the choreographer as they describe the events that have shaped their lives and their decisions to become dancers.

This dynamic Pantages production will close Sunday.

On Wednesday night, the Ahmanson Theatre's patio was alive with glamorous celebrities from the original Broadway play and the film version, who were being interviewed on the red carpet. Theatergoers were abuzz with excitement and anticipation of this revival show.

Several minutes past its scheduled opening, the curtain finally rose on one of America's most beloved musicals, "South Pacific."

This musical, based on James A. Michner's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1948 novel "Tales of the South Pacific," opened on Broadway in 1949 with stars Enzio Pinza and Mary Martin.

Expertly reprising these roles in the Ahmanson production is Rod Gilfry, who found his first musical home with the Los Angeles Opera, and Carmen Cusack.

The crowd of first-nighters left the theater singing familiar songs such as "Some Enchanted Evening," "I'm going to wash that man right out of my hair," "Happy Talk" and "A cockeyed Optimist," to name a few.

I, along with about everyone else in the theater that night, was loving seeing the magic of Bali Hai wash over all of us once again.

This production, which comes from New York's Lincoln Center, runs through July 17.

It was a memorable evening when the Los Angeles Children's Chorus honored four celebrated luminaries and arts patrons for their artistic and philanthropic contributions at the beautiful Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

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