At least nine veterans of the original cast of that singular sensation, A Chorus Line, are expected to show up at the Paper Mill opening night of the summer-tour revival that's sitting down for a Sept. 5-Oct. 14 run in Millburn, NJ.
Invites to the Sept. 7 opening night are out to the surviving original cast of the 1975 staging that made Broadway history by leaping from The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival to Broadway — and long-running smash-hit status. A spokesman for Paper Mill, the New Jersey nonprofit devoted to musicals and plays, said among those attending the opening performance will be original 1975 cast members Clive Clerk Wilson (Larry), Kelly Bishop (Sheila), Priscilla Lopez (Diana), Thommie Walsh (Bobby), Sammy Williams (Paul), Pamela Blair (Val), Baayork Lee (Connie), Scott Allen (Roy) and Donna Drake (Tricia). Lee, of course, directed and choreographed this tour and has handled many stagings over the years. Donna McKechnie, who played Cassie originally, will be on the road and unavailable to attend the Paper Mill opening. McKechnie's one-woman autobiographical musical show, Inside the Music, directed by Thommie Walsh, plays Paper Mill Oct. 2.
The revival's musical director, Fran Liebergall, has a long history with the musical, too. She was the original rehearsal pianist in 1975.
The conceptual, intermissionless musical about the hopes and past pains of those who perform in the often faceless choruses of musicals made history as the longest-running musical in Broadway history. It totaled 6,137 performances. Cats would later eclipse the milestone. The book is by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, with a score by composer Marvin Hamlisch and lyricist Edward Kleban. Michael Bennett conceived, directed and choreographed it. It took the Pulitzer Prize and the Best Musical Tony Award. Bennett died before the Broadway run ended.
Presumably, many in the current cast were not born when A Chorus Line premiered Off-Broadway in 1975. For Paper Mill information, call (973) 376-4343.
— By Kenneth Jones