Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bringing back the 'Line'

NYC -- One of the highlights of recent League conferences is the opportunity to hear Creative Conversations with the people whose art we all support. This conference is about the business, but also about the shows.

Early on Tuesday, we heard members of the creative team behind the new “A Chorus Line,” which closed on Broadway in 1990 after 6,137 performances. Some facts from a promotional book: Over 500 performers danced in the Broadway show and it grossed $300 million in the U.S. It was seen in 104 U.S. cities and 22 other countries.

Producer John Breglio moderated and introduced Marvin Hamlisch, the original composer who wrote his first Broadway score for this show.

Breglio talked about the love of big Broadway musicals and of the dancer gypsies who move from musical to musical as part of the chorus – which provides the story for “A Chorus Line.”

“We consider this musical to be the great American craft,” he said. “I had the privilege of knowing Michael {Bennett} back in 1972 and 73 and … he was a genius, a great man and a great friend.”

The late Bennett, of course, was the original choreographer and director of “A Chorus Line.”

“We had to get ‘Chorus Line’ back,” Breglio said. “It’s a great revival. Actually, I’d like to kill that word right now. It’s a new production of a great American musical. We looked at every department at how we could … fine-tune it. There are people who believe they know every second of ‘Chorus Line,’ but we have made changes.

“We brought it back for two reasons: so everybody can relive the magic of ‘Chorus Line.’ And to introduce it to a generation who had never seen it … to experience the universality of those emotions.”

He said they auditioned 1,800 people over a year and some of them had never seen the show on stage. They’re excited about reaching a whole new audience, including a national tour that was announced today and starting in May of 2008.

Confession time: I’ve never seen this classic American musical. So I’m especially excited to see this new version on stage at the Schoenfield Theatre. – Michael Kilgore/TBPAC

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