On Friday December 31st, A Chorus Line had its first preview at the Adelaide Festival Centre. Before the curtain even fell, Adelaide Now (the online branch of The Advertiser) had published an article about the first performance entitled A Chorus Line Dazzles At Premiere. It’s your typical arts fluff-piece – “stars were made”, producer tells you you should go, Adelaide’s the place to be, etc. Critics weren’t invited until the official opening night of Jan 3, yet journalist Emily Watkins – the Sunday Mail’s Crime and Justice Reporter – still tells us the production “dazzled the opening night crowd.” Can’t you just see that on the posters?
On Jan 1st, the Adelaide Festival Centre’s twitter asked tweeters what they thought of “opening night”:
before getting well and truly in the act, tweeting Watkins article as their “first review”, to which I replied:
To which I got no response.
So not only do we have the local newspaper conflating a first performance with an opening night, we have the Adelaide Festival Centre also ignoring this distinction, and then calling an article a review.
I mainly thought no more of it, until down to the Festival Theatre I went on January 3rd to pick up my tickets and watch the show to write my review. And it wasn’t until I sat down in my seat that I fully comprehended that critics had been invited to see and respond to a production which is a replica of a production which first played Broadway in 1975, where it continued for fifteen years. Which first played the West End in 1976; Sydney in 1977. Which won nine Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, became the longest running show on Broadway, and played to 6.5 million people on that stage alone. These are all facts which could leave someone in awe, but I was left with just one thought:
What am I doing here? What are any of us critics doing here?
What will any of us have to say about a production which has been kicking around the globe for 37 years? What is that going to offer to theatrical discussion?