Wayne Cilento Directs a New Kind of Chorus Line — Made Up of Concert Backup Singers — in A Hot Minute

News   Wayne Cilento Directs a New Kind of Chorus Line — Made Up of Concert Backup Singers — in A Hot Minute
 
A Hot Minute, the musical that reveals the lives of concert backup singers the way A Chorus Line drew back the curtain on Broadway dancers, will be heard in a private industry presentation in Manhattan Sept. 23.
Wayne Cilento
Wayne Cilento Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Wayne Cilento, Tony Award-nominated six times for his choreography (he won for The Who's Tommy) and himself a veteran of A Chorus Line, directs and choreographs the show.

The piece, seen in two New York engagements in the last decade, is conceived and written by Melanie Mintz, on whose original concept the Tony-nominated Leader of the Pack was based.

The 78-minute show — using songs by writers as diverse as Billie Holiday, Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane, Irene Cara and Smokey Robinson, with original numbers added among the classics — focuses on the lives of five back-up singers "and their audible insistence on breaking the sound barrier," according to production representative Judy Jacksina.

Magaret Dorn, a singer, composer, arranger and producer with experience in backup vocals, is the project's musical director.

The reading cast includes Richard H. Blake (Aida, Hairspray) as Steve "Slick" Aiello, Eden Espinosa (Brooklyn, Wicked) as Tuesday Gold, Ula Hedwig (Hair, Leader of the Pack and backup vocals for Bette Midler, Paul Simon, Carly Simon and more) as Samantha "Sam" Darby, Destan Owens (Rent, Chicago, Smokey Joe's Café) as Winston Dupres, Terita Redd (Rent, Hairspray) as Lucinda Williams. A Hot Minute appeared in two formative engagements in 1996 and 2001, with Cilento helming. The new 45-minute Sept. 23 presentation will represent revisions made to the material in recent years.

Mintz also wrote the musical Darlene Love — Portrait of a Singer; A Christmas Gift for You, a musical adaptation of Phil Spector's Christmas album; and Just Once, a 1990 musical.

Jacksina said the show was "a musical about the music in our lives and the singers who sing it — not the ones in the spotlight that get all the glory, the money and the fame, the ones way in the background."

She characterized the backup singers as "the ones the cameras never seem to find…the ones the record companies, the writers, the orchestrators, the arrangers and the stars cannot live without…"

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