The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park has just opened a production of the musical A CHORUS LINE. In its spanking new Rouse Theatre, a state-of-the-art facility and the centerpiece of a $50 million mainstage theatre complex, both the show and its venue make Cincinnati proud, thanks to a lead gift from Moe and Jack Rouse.

Newly reimagined by the brilliant Playhouse in the Park production team and vividly brought to life by a cast of singing, dancing, and acting triple-threats, the show about a group of dancers putting themselves on the line is as new, as fresh, as entertaining, and ultimately as moving as when A CHORUS LINE opened on Broadway 48 years ago.

The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park production is imaginatively directed by Producing Artistic Director Blake Robison, who locates the show in a clean and well-lit NYC loft in use as a rehearsal studio.

Robison’s 20-20 theatrical vision is supported by the production design: Tim Mackabee‘s set morphs to a Broadway stage “4 months later,” for the show’s finale.

The effectively naturalistic lighting of Jaymi Lee Smith changes from the indoor institutional light of everyday life to heightened theatricality for those moments when the auditioning dancers bare their souls in poignant soliloquies.

The cast is outfitted to great effect in everyday clothing by costume designer Kathleen Geldard, until the very final moments of the show, when the rehearsal garb is stunningly replaced by glittering razmataz song-and-dance outfits.

A Chorus Line is a show about dancers auditioning for a new gig, all of whom must meet the demands of tricky dance combinations they are just starting to learn. Alex Sanchez provides the superbly varied choreography that changes from a hilarious bump-and-grind to balletic sequences, all in support of the story being told.

A dozen-strong unseen but nicely heard band that perfectly plays the music of Marvin Hamlisch is strongly helmed by Music Director, Conductor and Orchestral Arranger Andrew Smithson, aided throughout by David Bullard’s excellent sound design.

In an ensemble of twenty-six equally and evenly talented singing-dancing actors, three performers stand out: Mike Costa as Maurice Dawkins in I Can Do That is sheer loose-limb perfection. Courtney Arango as Diana Morales delivers a both hilarious and touching Nothing about the phoniness of clueless acting classes. Alexa Racioppi is utterly vulnerable under the guise of a defiantly sexy Val in the show-stopping Dance: Ten; Looks: Three.

On July 25, 1975, theatre producer Joe Papp moved the musical A CHORUS LINE from its off-Broadway birthplace at the New York Public Theatre to the Shubert Theatre on Broadway, and in so doing rewrote the history of the American musical. The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park production, born in its architecturally stunning birthplace – the Rouse Theatre – has just rewritten the history of theatre in Cincinnati, and, in the words of the Bard, that is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Rafael de Acha © 2023


Rafael de Acha was born and grew up in Cuba. At the age of 17 he moved to the United States to study Drama at the University of Minnesota, Languages at L.A. City College, Music at the Juilliard School of Music, at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, and at the New England Conservatory of Music, from which he received the master’s degree. He co-founded the award-winning New Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida, where he produced and staged twenty seasons of classical and contemporary theater. In 2006 he was presented with a citation from The Dade County Cultural Affairs Council for “Trailblazing contributions to the arts in South Florida.”

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