"One" More Time: 50 Chorus Line Members, Including Kelly Bishop, Priscilla Lopez, Tribute Marvin Hamlisch at Paper Mill

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08 Oct 2012

Kelly Bishop
Kelly Bishop
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

"One thrilling combination" was revived Oct. 7 at Paper Mill Playhouse, where over 50 cast members from various productions of the iconic Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Chorus Line took to the New Jersey stage and paid tribute to the late, Tony Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch.

"It was overwhelming, electrifying and emotional," said a teary-eyed Terre Blair Hamlisch, the wife of the late songwriting legend, who attended the opening-night performance in Millburn, NJ. "There is no doubt in my mind that today [Marvin] would be smiling from ear to ear and extraordinarily proud of this cast and what they did with this piece."

Hamlisch's widow was likely referring to the electrifying, emotional and overwhelming finale that featured a slew of former and current Chorus Line members reprising the musical's finale, "One." This portion of the evening was introduced by Tony Award winner Kelly Bishop and director-choreographer Mitzi Hamilton — a dancer in Michael Bennett's original taped workshop who inspired the character of Val.

"Good evening," Bishop began. "In August, we lost our friend, our teacher, our mentor. Marvin Hamlisch was born in New York City, June 2, 1944. A graduate of Juilliard School of Music, he composed more than 40 motion picture scores throughout his musical career, including 1973's 'The Way We Were,' which he co-wrote with Marilyn and Alan Bergman. Marvin received an Academy Award for that score, and two years later, won the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for co-writing A Chorus Line. In a career that spanned film, television, theatre and recorded music, Marvin won seemingly every award available in each medium.

Mitzi Hamilton
photo by Monica Simoes

"But what I remember most about Marvin is an exuberant enthusiasm and a generosity of spirit and deed. This was a man who was so in the present — so engaged — that it didn't matter what he was doing, whether he was working on a project, or working with an actor or a singer, or just having a conversation with you, this man was there. He was there for you. He was listening. He was wonderful. Clever. Amusing. And, just delightful. I'm very, very lucky to have known him."

"Marvin always believed in the power of music to bring people together," added Hamilton. "He insisted that music can make a difference. He said, 'There is a global nature to music, which has the potential to bring all people together. Music is truly an international language, and I hope to contribute to writing communication as much as I can.' I believe he did just that. Now we would like to welcome company cast members…"

With those words, Chorus Line alumni, including members from the 1975 production, the 2006 Broadway revival and various touring productions, rose from their orchestra seats and made their way to the stage.

"We would like to pay tribute to our dear friend Marvin the best way we know how," said Hamilton as she walked up to the pit to address music director John O'Neill. "John, are you with us? Hit it, John!"


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