Behind the Scenes of “A Chorus Line” (Part 3)

Finale of A Chorus Line

This is part three of a three-part series on the dance and choreography in A Chorus Line, the 2019 Upper School spring musical. In part one we talked with Vlad Derisier — the show’s choreographer — about the preparation that goes into a dance-centric main-stage production, and in part two we talked to the cast during the rehearsal process about how they were handling learning all the challenging choreography.

After ten weeks of hard work and three amazing performances, the Upper School Musical – A Chorus Line  – closed its curtain for the last time, leaving the Beaver community blown away by the production. Watching them perform the final number in their all white costumes, in front of a towering mirror showing each cast member dancing together as one, the audience saw all the hard work come together beautifully. We reached out to the cast and crew to learn more about their full experience working on A Chorus Line, what they learned along the way, and how they feel now that it is over.

“I am sad to end such a great show, but I am happy about how great the performances went,” said cast member Adam Drizen ’20.

This is just about the consensus for how everyone in the cast and crew feels after putting in all the hard work. That, and grateful to have been involved.

Choreographer Vlad Derisier described his post-show feelings as bittersweet. This show was different for him and full of new challenges and discoveries.

“I had an expectation that I set of what I wanted [the cast] to put out,” Vlad said. “It is possible to have a group of students full of varying abilities come together to put on a great show. If you set the bar high, it pushes them to go as far as they can.”

One of the new challenges of this show for Vlad was making his choreography translate to a full cast on the Bradley Hall stage.

“I’ll have the concepts and ideas in my mind, and then we will see it on the stage and it just won’t work.”

Vlad learned new techniques to help himself with these challenges.

“I don’t often write down my choreography, it’s such a weird process for me, but I found that to be super helpful with this show. My notes became my resource when students asked about the specific dance moves.” This is a strategy he will use again in the future when choreographing other Beaver productions.

For senior and tech theater member, Nicholas Newbold, this show came with the challenge of making a mirror. A really big one.

“While the set was minimalist compared to past Beaver shows, the process of building the giant mirror proved difficult,” he said. “The reflective material needed to be stretched over a wooden frame and fastened down in a specific way in order to minimize wrinkles, and despite knowing the trick, it still took many, many hours to make it look as good as it did in the end.”

Mirror challenge aside, Nicholas said the tech team went into opening night feeling very prepared because of the great teamwork of the crew.

“I can’t stress this enough, but working with people who are just as committed to a project or goal as you are makes the stressful parts easier and makes the fun parts even more fun,”

–Nicholas Newbold

Similarly, for Timothy Fischer ’19, the cast was his favorite part of his experience.

It was awesome to see how people grew as actors and dancers throughout the process. People who said they couldn’t dance at the beginning of the process were doing double and triple turns by opening night.”

The Beaver community was amazed to see such a fantastic complex show with an ensemble that does so much singing and dancing. Their hard work in rehearsals paid off when they got to show all that they had learned.

Even though this was the last musical at Beaver for the seniors, many will continue on doing some form of theater and dance after graduating because of their great experiences here.

Newbold also shared, “at this point I can’t imagine not having theater be a part of my life. While I do not intend at this point to pursue it as a major, I will definitely be looking for opportunities to get involved in other ways.”

Fischer agreed and said he wants to continue learning and pursuing music, singing, and theater at Wheaton College in the fall.

He explains, “Beaver has given me the chance to discover my passion for the performing arts, and I definitely wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for the incredible teachers who’ve guided me to this point.”

Congratulations to all of the cast and crew on the success of A Chorus Line.

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