A Chorus Line

has become a legend since it opened in 1975, running longer, winning more prizes, playing to audiences all over the world. Reviewing it is like reviewing a Danielle Steel novel after it's sold a gazillion copies: It's not really any good, but who cares? The production that just opened at the long-dark Forrest Theatre is like a used paperback copy of that Danielle Steel novel - serviceable, but dingy.

One of those "there's-no-business-like-show-business" shows intended to play on the audience's romanticized idea of a hoofer's happy life, Michael Bennett's opus is about 17 dancers auditioning for a chorus line, hoping they'll be one of the eight chosen by the director/choreographer.

The audition takes two mortal hours. We watch them learn routines ("And 5, 6, 7, 8"), perform them (ditto), again (ditto), and then the director (Sebastian LaCause), an obnoxious, manipulative demagogue, makes each dancer tell his/her story.

These are all sad tales about how they were misfits in high school, mistreated by classmates, or parents, or strangers or. . . .

The first autobiography is the best: Mike (Clyde Alves) sings "I Can Do That," about discovering he could "do that" at his sister's dancing classes. Val (Mindy Dougherty) sings "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three," the famous, funny number about "tits and ass" cosmetic surgery. Although she's a cutie, the delivery lacks zest and charm.

Various sappy tales are told by the "boys" (as male dancers both gay and straight are called), most of them adolescent drivel. Cassie (Robyn Hurder), a has-been trying to make a comeback, dances a solo routine to prove her star quality that looks as though it should be performed on ice skates.

The only really strong singing voice is Gabrielle Ruiz's in "What I Did for Love."

But credit where credit is due: Their bodies are gorgeous, their kicks high, their muscles magnificent. It makes you wonder what the auditions for the cast of A Chorus Line must be like.

A Chorus Line

Through Jan. 4 at the Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut St.

Tickets: $31.50-$86.50.

Information: 1-800-447-7400 or www.telecharge.com.EndText