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One singular sensation: Playhouse in the Park opens new theater with a new take on a classic

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Posted at 1:36 PM, Mar 10, 2023

CINCINNATI — When Playhouse in the Park opens "A Chorus Line"for previews this weekend, it's a a fresh take on a classic musical - and it's the first show in a new theater, which cast and crew just got into this week.

"I'm so eager to open the space which we've worked so hard for, for four years building up to this," said Blake Robison, Playhouse's artistic director. "This is the perfect show to open with. It's a musical about the theater and the people who make theatre, it celebrates that in the theater itself."

But if you think you know "A Chorus Line," think again. Like the building it opens in, the show takes an existing classic and reimagines it for a modern audience.

"We set out to sort of answer the question - 'what do dancers go through today?,'" Robison said. "And how can we draw a line between 1975 when the musical was created and what we're doing today?"

The show may have been one singular sensation, but Playhouse has tasked choreographer Alex Sanchez with re-energizing the steps made famous for decades.

"I feel the pressure," Sanchez said.

He and director Robison said they didn't want to change the original, but honor it in a modern way.

"Every time Alex gives us a step, whether we know it or not, we'll find out later it has some secret meaning underneath it," said Shiloh Goodin, who plays Cassie. Goodin, like much of the cast, is coming from New York.

In fact, early rehearsals had to happen in New York City because the Playhouse space wasn't ready yet.

"We were on top of each other," Sanchez said.

Then, the company moved into larger space at the Cincinnati Ballet.

"They've sort of given us the freedom to step into it," Goodin said. "Coming out of the pandemic, Cassie's talking about what it means to come back to the stage, come back to dance as her passion."

Playhouse in the Park's new $50 million complex also includes a new entrance and lobby, along with the new mainstage theater called Moe and Jack's Place - The Rouse Theater.

"A Chorus Line" starts preview on Saturday, March 11, with opening night on Thursday, March 16. It runs through April 15.