The legendary Broadway musical, A Chorus Line, opens Sept. 7 at Paper Mill in Millburn, NJ, as the culmination of a summer tour that played a handful of cities.
The 1975 musical by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante (book), Marvin Hamlisch (music) and Edward Kleban (lyricist) won the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award and was hailed as the apex of so-called "concept musicals" of the period. On Sept. 29, 1983, it became the longest running musical in the history of Broadway. Michael Bennett conceived, directed and choreographed the piece.
Bennett's work is now recreated for this revival by Baayork Lee, who played the original "Connie Wong" in the groundbreaking show. The show is set in 1975 and still tells the story of a group of chorus kids hoping to land jobs in the show.
Members of the Broadway original cast are expected to attend the opening. Performances continue to Oct. 14. Fran Liebergall is the musical director. Lee also staged the 1991 Paper Mill production of A Chorus Line, and has shepherded stagings of the show around the world.
The intermissionless show's conceit has the director, Zach, interviewing and auditioning the dancers on the stage of a Broadway theatre. Their life stories unfurl in overlapping songs and specialty numbers filled with pain, humor and passion. "What I Did for Love" is the show's breakaway hit. Some of the cast members of the current revival were not born when the show premiered in 1975. The new company includes Miguel Angel, Mark Bove, Paul Buschman, Charlene Carr, Caitlin Carter, DJ Chase, Eric Dysart, Tim Federle, Britt Freund, Cheyenne Gross, Michael Gorman, Brenda Hamilton, Colleen Hawks, Nadine Isenegger, Kurt Kelly, Lauri Kraft, Jennifer Lewis, Cindy Marchionda, Halden Michaels, Raegan Pierce, Shane Rhoades, John Salvatore, Kim Shriver, Michele Tibbitts, Robert Tunstall, Luis Villabon, Lauren Wagner and Miki Yamashita.
Tickets are $29-$59. For information about Paper Mill, the nonprofit theatre devoted to revivals and new works, call (973) 376-4343 or visit papermill.org.
A spokesman for Paper Mill 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).
The revival's musical director, Fran Liebergall, has a long history with the musical, too. She was the original rehearsal pianist in 1975.
— By Kenneth Jones