RISE & SHINE BROADWAY FANS. Broadway’s biggest night of the year is only 29 days away…. The 72nd Annual Tony Awards. We are continuing to wake all of you up each morning playing you the best performances from the previous Tony telecasts on our TOP 40 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. Are you ready for more showstoppers?
At # 29, we experience the first step that over millions of performers go through with wanting to be in a cast of a show… The audition. In addition, we get to learn about some of those performers who are wanting to prove to the director why they deserve to be in the cast. Of course, we are talking about the legendary musical A Chorus Line. The show featured a score by the late Marvin Hamlisch and late Edward Kleban, a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante, and of course legendary direction and staging by the late Michael Bennett.
From the 2007 telecast, the cast of the most recent revival opened that year’s Tonys with a medley of 2 of the show’s signature songs. They start off outside of Radio City Music Hall in their “audition attire” to perform opening combination number I HOPE I GET before taking center stage in their “Gold costumes” to perform the finale number ONE.
A CHORUS LINE initially was actually done by as of what was supposed to be a Workshop Intensive for Dancers by Michon Peacock and Tony Stevens in 1974. They were taping interviews of fellow Broadway dancers (aka “Gypsies”) about their experiences with performing, why they want to pursue it as a career, and got some intense questions to answer. Dancer and Choreographer Michael Bennett (who was in the chorus of numerous shows) was invited by Peacock and Stevens to observe. During the sessions, he began to take over. All those recordings were then sent to James Kirkwood Jr and Nicholas Dante who turned it into dialogue and Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban came on board and transformed the stories into some of the beloved melodies and words we know today from the show. In addition, Bob Avian came onboard as co-director and choreographer.
The show was developed in 2 lab workshops. Several scenes were cut and the ending of the show got rewritten. In the original script, 8 random dancers (that were not that featured) were selected to be in the show due to their “performance quality” and the main role of “Cassie” gets cut. People were devastated and protested at Michael Bennett to change the ending, He listened and now today we see “Cassie” booked the job.
Following 2 labs, A CHORUS LINE had its world premiere run Off Broadway at The Public Theater back in 1975. It ran for 101 performances downtown. The production did so well, it made the move midtown to Broadway’s Shubert Theatre running for a historical (at the time) 6,137 performances. It made Broadway history as the initial 1st Longest Running Show in Broadway History. Following it’s 1990 closing, the show began to get surpassed by the show that originally came from the UK (including The Phantom of the Opera, Cats the Musical, and Les Miserables – Musical). The original cast included…
Robert LuPone as “Zach”,
Tony winner Donna McKechnie as “Cassie”,
Tony winner Kelly Bishop as “Sheila”,
Tony winner Sammy Williams as “Paul”,
Nancy Lane as “Bebe”
Tony winner Wayne Cilento as “Mike
Baayork Lee as “Connie”,
Tony winner Priscilla Lopez as “Diana”,
A CHORUS LINE was nominated for 12 Tony Awards in 1976 winning 9 including Best Musical. Later on during its run, it received a special Tony honor for Longest Broadway Musical. In addition, the show also made history as another one of the few musicals in Broadway history to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
With the show a triumph on Broadway, A CHORUS LINE became a worldwide hit.
The show was revived only once. The first and most recent revival (as seen in this video) played Broadway’s Gerald Schonefeld Theatre for a total of 777 performances back in 2006. This production brought back Bob Avian recreating his original staging along with the choreography reconstructed by original cast member Baayork Lee. When this revival was announced, over 3,000 came to New York to audition for this production. This revival cast included…
Tony nominee Michael Berresse (later Mario Lopez) as “Zach”,
Tony nominee Charlotte d’Amboise as “Cassie”,
Deidre Goodwin as “Sheila”,
Jason Tam as “Paul”
The Voice winner Alisan Porter (later Krysta Rodriguez) as “Bebe”,
Jeffery Schecter as “Mike”,
Yuka Takara as “Connie
Natalie Cortez as “Diana”,
That recent revival was nominated for 2 Tony Awards in 2007 including Best Revival Of A Musical but lost both categories.
During the run of this revival, acclaimed filmmakers James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo filmed a documentary about the show’s road to Broadway and also shows viewers the behind the scenes process of what goes into an audition (while casting was underway for the 2006 revival). The documentary is called EVERY LITTLE STEP. It’s still available on DVD and iTunes
In addition to the documentary, A CHORUS LINE was also a hit on the big screen. The film was released from Columbia Pictures in 1985. It was nominated for several Awards including the Golden Globes and the Oscars. The film cast included…
Michael Douglas as “Zach”,
Alyson Reed as “Cassie”,
Vicki Frederick as “Sheila”,
Cameron English as “Paul”,
Michelle Johnston as “Bebe”,
Charles McGowan as “Mike”.
Jan Gan Boyd as “Connie”
Yamil Borges as “Diana”,
Isn’t this show truly A SINGULAR SENSATION?!
The opening number for the 2007 Tony’s “A Chorus Line”
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