Last week I was invited to Opening Night of the Mexican Version of A Chorus Line: La línea del coro. They have two slogans for the show, one that translates “The Musical that Revolutionized Broadway” and the second one ” World Quality: This line is golden”. Now, I usually don’t write reviews in this blog of shows most of my readers won’t be able to see, but this time it has made me realized many realities of the Mexican Musical Theatre and I wanted to share it with you.
Of course I went with a whole bunch of theatre people who all (including me) love the show, love the music and love the text. The problem when you go with these kind of people is that we all take out the claws and criticize every single thing but most of all, the number one comment was: ” I saw it on Broadway and it was breathtaking, and here in Mexico is not like that”. I agree. However, we really need to stop comparing to Broadway, or take it as a reference point to judge if something is good in Mexico or not. There is not a cast in Mexico that could have had Broadway quality, this may sound harsh or bold but no one could have done it better, even though it wasn’t enough. The truth is that not a single person that criticized the cast as a whole or individually could have done it better, as a whole.
The thing is that no one is really prepared to do theatre at that level in Mexico. Most people that are on stage actually studied something else and then trained on their spare time, no one dedicated professionally to the craft from an early age, and even those very few who had the guts to do it, there is no recognized institution of high standards to train our talented people to be top quality in Musical Theatre as a whole. There is a lot of talent in the country, don’t get me wrong, but we are simply not developing because today, a career in Musical Theatre, is not an option. The cast of The Chorus Line is just a sample of the most talented actors in México, the ones who had the guts to take their profession past a hobby, the ones that have been in big musicals building a career, and sadly, its still not enough.
On the other hand, as usual in this company, production was flawless, clean. The lighting and sound design was precise and I even going to dare to call perfect. Unfortunately, they still have to bring American designers to do it for us, I just hope its a matter of time for us to learn to do it ourselves with that level of quality. Choreography was clean and the few production elements were well achieved.
So my main criticism is not the cast itself, nor the production, but to the producers. I admire and respect big time their work because they are the ones who brought quality in theatre to the country. They brought full versions of Les Mis, Phantom, Beauty and the Beast, Mamma Mia! and other hits. But this move, seemed cheap to me. I understand that mexican audiences are not cooperating enthusiastically in the box office, so they decided to put on a show that relies on cast and not production (therefore saving a couple million pesos). As any other production of chorus line: simple costumes, the mirrors, the fan, and the golden suits. But what makes you want to pay the $120 dollars on Broadway is the cast, a line of headliners and dancers that are professional dancers who have dedicated their whole life to dance, with pure technique and style. Trying to do the same thing in México, with a line that is not what its promised, at the same price they asked for Beauty and the Beast ($650 pesos, which is a lot for the Mexican Economy) and on top of all to an audience that appreciates production but can’t really read coreography, is simply wrong to me.
“The musical that revolutionized Broadway” – Yes indeed, in the 70’s, not 30 years later. “World Quality, This line is golden”- As for golden, it just refers to the colour of their costumes. I hope I’m wrong in my forecast. A big success in A Chorus Line here in Mexico would tell me that mexican audiences are growing and appreciating more this type of art and maybe respect it more, and maybe be a bit more open when a kid says ” I want to sing and dance for a living” and then maybe, just maybe, we will see a golden line in the future. And for that dream and reason I would actually recommend people to go see it, but wait for a price change or big discounts or else you are going to feel disappointed.
Feel free to leave any comments and debate with me. Thanks for reading!