News A Chorus Line 1990/91/92 – 1998
Director/choreographer Michael Bennett had long wanted to do a show that put the spotlight on that class of performers known as “gypsies,” not the stars, but the unknown dancers, the faceless artists that persevere in the chorus, suffering through the endless auditions and almost constant rejection that comes with a life in the Theatre. So in 1974, he rented a studio and invited 24 dancers to talk about their personal and professional lives. These sessions were recorded, written down, and eventually pieced into a libretto by playwright/novelist James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, one of Bennett’s dancers. Academy-award winner Marvin Hamlisch was brought in to compose the music, and Edward Kleban wrote the lyrics. Bennett even brought in playwright Neil Simon who–although uncredited–added several of the great one-liners in the play.
“A Chorus Line” would revolutionize the way audiences view musical theatre. It broke away from the rigid story line of traditional musicals, instead weaving together the stories of the ensemble cast into a seamless whole. It broke new ground technically as well, becoming the first show on Broadway to use computers in the control booth.
“A Chorus Line” opened at Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre on April 15, 1975. After an initial run of 101 performances, it moved to the Shubert Theatre where it would remain for almost fifteen years, breaking box office records and winning almost every possible award including 9 Tony Awards, 5 Drama Desk Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, the London Evening Standard Award, a special citation Obie Award, and even a Gold Record Award from Columbia Records. The show finally closed on April 28, 1990, after 6,137 performances.
Just a few months later, “A Chorus Line” was staged in Italy for the first time. It opened on September the 5th at the Todi Festival and run successfully all over Italy for two years.
( Maria Laura Baccarini as Cassie )
“A chorus line” is a substantial group of dancers who perform choreographed routines together as a body of one, also singing if required, usually in musical theatre.
For many years, the chorus line dancers in Broadway musicals and revues were called ponies. But they are now referred to as gypsies.
“A Chorus Line” is the story of the struggles actors have in the long, drawn out process of auditions. It is a celebration of those unsung heroes of the American Musical Theatre-the chorus dancers, the gypsies, those valiant, overdedicated, underpaid, highly trained performers who back up the star or stars and often make them look even more talented than they are. It is also a celebration of the American Musical itself.
“A Chorus Line” is the perfect combination of artistic achievement and popular appeal. While this musical about musicals focused on the lives of dancers, general audiences found that the show spoke to their individual lives and experiences. In the Playbill listings, the show was dedicated “to anyone who has ever danced in a chorus or marched in step . . . anywhere.”
Through songs such as “I Can Do That”, “At The Ballet”, and “Sing”, the audience gets an insight into the fears, loves, hates, ambitions, childhoods, families and careers of all the members of “the line”. Classic Broadway tunes from the show include “Dance Ten; Looks Three”, “At the Ballet”, “The Music and the Mirror”, and “One”.
“A Chorus Line” appeared at the Shubert Theatre for almost fifteen years, breaking box office records and winning almost every musical theatre award including 9 Tonys, 5 Drama Desk Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, the London Evening Standard Award, a special citation Obie Award, and its original cast recording went “Gold”.
“A Chorus Line” requires triple threats, performers who are adept at singing, acting and dancing and all the performers, all over the world, who have been involved with that show, can take pride that they were part of a real milestone in theatrical history.
Until it was eclipsed by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats”, “A Chorus Line” held the record for the longest-running show in Broadway history, with 6,137 performances, it has been produced in over twenty countries and continues to be popular around the world.
“A Chorus Line” was staged in Italy for the second time in 1998, eight years after the first Italian edition, starring again Maria Laura Baccarini as “Cassie” and many other members of the original cast.
“The Music and The Mirror” was the longest solo ever created for a musical. It tells of Cassie’s love of dance. She is a terrific veteran “gypsy” who has had some notable successes as a soloist. She may be, in fact, too good for a chorus part. But she needs the work. Even more, she needs to dance. Donna McKechnie played this role in the original cast, a role built in large part around her actual life experiences as she related them in the workshops.