Donna McKechnie gets the music and the mirror and the chance to dance in her one-woman show, Inside the Music, Oct. 2 at Paper Mill in Millburn, NJ, prior to a Manhattan cabaret gig.
When Tony Award-winner McKechnie sings, dances and tells stories about her career, at Paper Mill, she'll do it on the set of the theatre's current revival production of A Chorus Line. That 1975 landmark tuner made McKechnie a legend for helping give voice to the faceless kids who sweat and struggle in ensemble roles everywhere.
Inside the Music has been in development for several years, tested in the regions and hoping for a Broadway berth. Why Broadway? Michigan native McKechnie is a creature of the Broadway theatre, having appeared in the original landmark productions of How to Succeed in Business..., Company and Promises, Promises. Inside the Music has text by Christopher Durang and direction by A Chorus Line's Thommie Walsh (who are not credited for the downsized cabaret evening).
The boite version, An Evening with Donna McKechnie: My Musical Comedy Life, finds life Oct. 3-13 at Arci's Place in Manhattan. On Aug. 11, McKechnie ended an extended, sold-out run of her cabaret show,My Musical Comedy Life, at Arci's. The return in October was immediately announced.
As with the full show, the intimate Arci's evening also features songs and stories from Pontiac, MI, native McKechnie's varied career. In addition to starring in A Chorus Line, created by her onetime husband Michael Bennett, she appeared in the stage version of State Fair on Broadway and has also played choice roles in regional theatre (Sally in Paper Mill's Follies, Desiree in North Shore Music Theatre's A Little Night Music). Musical director Dennis Buck helms the music in both shows. At Arci's, it's a piano and voice gig, but at Paper Mill (8 PM Oct. 2) it's piano, voice, percussion (Ray Grappone) and bass (Ray Kilday).
New York Times' chief drama critic, Ben Brantley, made a rare appearance in the cabaret realm and warmly reviewed McKechnie's summer gig at Arci's.
For information about Paper Mill, call (973) 376 4343. For information about Arci's Place, 450 Park Avenue South, call (212) 532-4370.
A live album of Inside the Music was recorded by the Fynsworth Alley label and is expected in the coming months.
— By Kenneth Jones