Five, Six, Seven, Eight… “A Chorus Line” is Simply a Musical Knockout! [Berkshire on Stage]

The Cast of A Chorus Line. (photo: Chris Reis)
The Cast of A Chorus Line. (photo: Chris Reis)

Review by Larry Murray

A Chorus Line is the legendary Broadway show that has what everyone wants in a musical: great singing, dancing and a story that captures your imagination. First brought to Broadway in 1975, it scooped up just about every award there was that year, and made the fortune of New York’s Public Theatre from whose rehearsal rooms it sprang. It played what seems like forever on Broadway (6,137 performances – 14+ years!) and sent out several touring companies that found they could return to the same cities again and again because of great word-of-mouth advertising, and it was the kind of show you could see more than once.

Michael Bennett was the force that created this “behind-the-costumes and choreography” look at the dance “gypsies” of Broadway musicals. Underneath the smiling faces and upbeat steps are real human interest life stories that are little different from yours and mine. We aspire. We struggle. We perservere. We succeed. We stumble again. etc.

In workshops, Bennett drew out these personal testimonies from the dancers, and with the book writers James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante melded them into a narrative that is refreshingly candid.

In fact, A Chorus Line was the first musical on Broadway that had characters who were homosexual, and portrayed them in a positive light, a landmark for 1970. And even though it is now 2012, one elderly gentleman just a few rows from the stage almost had apoplexy when the gay dancer Paul began to tell his story. The poor guy was upset at the actor’s candor and finally burst from his seat sputtering something at his wife, and made a beeline for the exit. He could be heard complaining to an usher as the show continued on. So you could say the show still induces some controversy, even now.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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