ABOUT THE MUSICAL
A CHORUS LINE is a stunning concept musical capturing the spirit and tension of a Broadway chorus audition, with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban and a book by James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante.
Exploring the inner lives and poignant ambitions of professional Broadway gypsies, the show features one powerhouse number after another. Memorable musical numbers include “What I Did for Love, “One,” “I Can Do That,” “At the Ballet,” “The Music and the Mirror,” and “I Hope I Get It.”
A brilliantly complex fusion of song, dance, and compellingly authentic drama, A CHORUS LINE was instantly recognized as a classic. is a celebration of those unsung heroes of the American Musical Theatre: the chorus dancers– those valiant, over dedicated, underpaid, highly trained performers who back up the star or stars and often make them look even more talented than they are. It is also a celebration of the American Musical itself.
A CHORUS LINE is also about competition, and competition might easily be the common denominator that grabs the audience and holds it by the collective heartstring until the final, ultimate choices are made. For everyone, at one time or another, puts his life on the line. We all compete, no matter what business we’re in, for promotion, for attention, for approval and for love. Specifically, A CHORUS LINE takes the audience through the final grueling audition run by the director, Zach, for a new Broadway musical.
At the beginning of the show, Zach, a driven, compulsive worker, has assembled thirty semi-finalists and is putting them through a vigorous series of dance combinations, including ballet and jazz. Soon he thinks this group down to the final sixteen, eight boys and eight girls. They and the audience know that eventually this number will be cut in half and Zach will choose only four boys and four girls to be in his new musical. Instead of having them read a short audition scene, Zach wants to elicit a personal history from each one: how they got into show business, why they became dancers, what their hopes, fantasies and aspirations are. As he calls upon them individually, they react in every possible way, from bravado to reticence. From childhood on, their memories emerge, blending into a seamless series of musical numbers and monologues, some humorous (“Dance: Ten; Looks: Three”), some poignant (“At the Ballet”), some group reminiscences when they all share their adolescent experiences (“Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love”) and some intimate, as when he calls upon Cassie, his former girlfriend who has returned from California to ask for a chorus job after having been a featured performer (“The Music and the Mirror”).
As their individual stories pour out in song (“Nothing”) and in spoken words (Paul’s monologue), interspersed by learning dance routines that reveal their ability to perform as a faceless drill team (“One”), the audience, as well as Zach, gets to know each one of these ambitious entertainers individually, so that by the show’s end, they can identify and root for their favorites as well as empathize with all of them because they all need the job– they all want to work at their craft.
A CHORUS LINE departs from the usual glossy backstage musical by presenting a true picture of what it’s like to be in the theatre: glamorous, yes, at times, but also tough, heartbreaking and sometimes even tragic, in the case of Paul who is knocked out of the competition by an injury sustained during a dance number (“The Tap Combination”). After these brave dancers explain why they go through a life filled with rejection and injury (“What I Did for Love”), Zach makes his selection, eliminating the last group who reluctantly leave the stage. The lights soon fade on the remaining eight ecstatic dancers as they are told to prepare for rehearsals of their new Broadway show. They fade only to come up as each performer, now dressed in full, shimmering finale costume, reappears to receive an individual bow before joining together to perform the brilliant dance finale (“One”) and showing exactly the talent it takes to make it into A Chorus Line.
*Larry and Mike may be played be females (Lori & Mikki).
* The original Broadway production had a cast of 26 performers. The show has no dedicated chorus. No doubling was employed.
The following characters in A Chorus Line are auditioners eliminated during the intial cut. They may be used in large ensemble numbers, as offstage singers, and/or as understudies.
These actors will have a limited rehearsal schedule.
Lois Dilettente is a ballerina who is able to get through the ballet combination but not the jazz combo. Ballerina; non-speaking
Tricia - believed to be from Ohio. She has been with a touring company but not in a Broadway show before. She dances the ballet combination too big and even crosses in front of Sheila at one point. Tricia is traditionally the only cut dancer with a vocal solo in "I Hope I Get It.” (This may or may not be the case in our production).
Vicki Vickers - A pretty California-blonde type. She has not had any ballet training nor done any Broadway shows. She is only able to get through the jazz combination with Larry demonstrating in front of the group.
Butch Barton - Believed to be from Oklahoma, and has a bit of an attitude. He is unable to correct his mistake in the first boys' combination. Non-speaking.
Frank continually looks at his feet while dancing, based on Serrecchia having polio as child. He wears a headband - is referred to as headband boy; non-speaking
Tom Tucker - believed to be from Memphis. He does not speak but is seen mouthing the counts during both combinations. Counts with his mouth; non-speaking
Roy - has only had one year of ballet training and continually brings his arms on the wrong downbeat. “Wrong-arm boy”
LEAD FEMALE ROLES
Cassie Ferguson (30-35. Female - Mezzo belt)
Returning to the chorus after years of being a featured performer. She is having to humble herself to audition for the chorus again with younger and less experienced dancers. Previously had a relationship with Zach and it did not end well.
Seeking a true triple threat performer, as she sings the iconic “The Music and the Mirror.”
Diana Morales (22-30. Female - Mezzo belt)
A streetwise Latina who is a little bit tough, and eternal optimist. A determined and athletic dancer from the Bronx.
Sings “Nothing,” in which she reveals herself to be funny, charming, and vulnerable.
Judy Turner (Female - Mezzo)
Funny, gawky, nervous. Warm and hopeful. Very awkward except when dancing.
Ideally seeking a taller dancer.
Val Clark (Female - Mezzo belt)
Sassy, funny. A foul-mouthed but excellent dancer who couldn’t get performing jobs because of her looks until she had plastic surgery. A brazen, direct, attention-seeker from Vermont.
Sings the infamous “Dance 10, Looks 3" - which we will be editing to say "This & That" instead of "T** and A**"
Bebe Benzenheimer (18-25. Female - Mezzo)
Very insecure about her looks and tries to be funny to cover her insecurities. Feels a little excluded but just wants to be liked. She is quiet, vulnerable and kind.
Sings the middle harmony in “At the Ballet.”
Connie Wong (Female - Alto)
Experienced dancer. Married. Petite. A bit of a mother hen with a great sense of humor. Born in Chinatown, New York.
Should believably play 4’10’’.
Kristine Urich (18-25. Female)
Al’s scatter-brained wife who can’t sing. She is awkward, anxious and hilarious.
She “speaks” the song “Sing,” but does sing in the ensemble numbers of the show.
Maggie Winslow (Female - Mezzo)
A sweetheart, little sister type. Dreamer. Fairly experienced dancer from California.
Seeking an incredibly warm singer with a mix belt up to E natural for the soaring climax of “At the Ballet.”
Sheila Bryant (30's. Female -Alto )
Oldest dancer on the line. Confident, brassy, sassy, bratty and sophisticated. One of the more popular dancers; humorous.
Sings the low harmony in “At the Ballet.”
LEAD MALE ROLES
Zach (40's. Male, Baritone)
The director and choreographer of the show for which the dancers are auditioning. He is a stage veteran and thus can be curt and harsh, but he is revealed to be a caring and empathetic man who truly grows to care about these dancers.
Non-singing, but should have movement ability, as he demonstrates a few dance moves.
Larry (25+ Male - Tenor) - or Lori if played by a female
Zach’s assistant who teaches and demonstrates the audition dances.
Needs to be an great dancer, as he is the standard to which all of the auditioning dancers are held. Does not need a strong singing ability.
Bobby Mills (25+ Male - Baritone)
Flamboyant, funny and witty. Very sharp tongued. Covers everything over with a joke; had a very hard childhood. From upstate New York.
Mark Anthony (18. Male - Tenor)
Optimistic; first-timer; naïve but charming. Great dancer and All-American kid.
Mike Costa (20-25. Male - Tenor) or Mikki if played by a female
Quite aggressive, determined, cocky, sure of himself, but likeable. Tap dancer who worked with Zach before. Experienced; flirtatious. From New Jersey.
Must be able to tap.
Richie Walters (Male - Tenor)
From Missouri. Enthusiastic, cool and very funny. Likeable and laid back.
African-American; strong dancer.
Al Deluca (25. Male - Baritone)
From the Bronx. Street tough, macho, and newly married to Kristine; very protective.
Seeking a strong singer, as he is the contrast to the non-singing Kristine in “Sing.”
Paul San Marco (Male - Baritone)
Introverted and slightly insecure but loves performing; only now starting to feel comfortable about being gay and accepted by his parents. From Spanish Harlem, New York. Friends with Diana.
Great actor. Delivers a beautiful, raw and vulnerable monologue about coming out to his parents.
Don Kerr (Male - Baritone)
Ladies’ man, married, and into cars, money, and women. Very sure of himself. All American guy. Cocky because he has worked with Zach before. From Kansas City.
Gregory Gardener (25. Male - Baritone)
Quite a smart-alec and has worked with Zach before. Very East Side New York.
Sassy, Jewish, gay man.
NOTE: MOST content you find online will NOT be edited/cleaned up for language and content. Our production will.
We highly recommend that you read the musical first, and familiarize yourself with the entire score.
However, if you do watch a production, please only refer to it in terms of understanding the storyline - do not copy what you see other actors doing. Please concentrate on only learning what the story is about and familiarizing yourself with the characters and songs.
Again, be warned that anything you see online is going to be the more mature Broadway version of the script/songs. We are using the more family friendly "high school version" of the script.
Beginning in 1974, dancers Michon Peacock, Tony Stevens, and Michael Bennett began a series of taped workshop sessions with fellow Broadway “gypsies.” In these sessions, the dancers talked about their childhoods, their roads to becoming professional dancers, their fears, their hopes, and their thoughts about the business. These tapes provided the content for workshop productions of the musical that would eventually become A Chorus Line.
In the 1970s, most Broadway shows followed the pattern of an out-of-town tryout (often in New Haven or Boston) and then a transfer to a Broadway house. A Chorus Line was one of the first shows to utilize a now-popular development process: beginning with a series of workshops, then developing the show through a number of readings and smaller productions, and eventually opening in a larger house. Bennett, Peacock, and Stevens began workshopping their musical in 1974 with Joseph Papp, the Artistic Director of the Public Theater in New York City. Though his theater was already severely in debt, Papp managed to raise 1.5 million dollars to produce a musical many thought was doomed to fail -- featuring no stars, very little plot, and no set. Bennett and Papp brought in playwright and novelist James Kirkwood and dancer Nicholas Dante (who inspired the character of Paul) to take the raw material from the tapes and craft it into a libretto. Academy Award winner Marvin Hamlisch composed the music and Edward Kleman penned the lyrics. It was a Broadway debut for each of them. The cast included eight of the original dancers whose voices were recorded on tape.
The off-Broadway production of A Chorus Line premiered at the Public Theater on April 16, 1975. The show was a hit, and transferred quickly to Broadway, opening at the Schubert on July 26 of the same year. Critics and audiences raved. Martin Gottfried in the New York Post wrote: “A dazzling show; driving, compassionate and finally thrilling. It is a major event in the development of the American Musical Theater.” A Chorus Line became the longest-running Broadway musical in 1983, though it was later surpassed and now ranks fifth. This first production closed on April 28, 1990, after 6137 performances.
Opening Off-Broadway at The Public Theater on April 15, 1975, A CHORUS LINE, originally starring Donna McKechnie, Sammy Williams, Robert LuPone and Carole Bishop, transferred to the Shubert Theatre on Broadway on July 25, 1975 and ran for 6,137 performances before closing on April 28, 1990. On September 29, 1983, A CHORUS LINE became the longest-running show in Broadway history. In London it played 903 performances at the Theatre Royale, Drury Lane. It was revived at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway in 2006 and played for 759 performances.
9 Tony Awards for Musical, Book, Score, Choreography, Director, Actress, Featured Actor, Featured Actress, and Lighting Design
4 Drama Desk Awards for Music, Director, Choreographer and Actress
3 Obie Awards for Actress, Actor and Special Citation
The Theatre World Special Award
The Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Special Gold Tony Award in honor of becoming Broadway’s longest-running musical
2 Tony Awards for Revival and Featured Actress
The original Broadway production ran for 6,137 performances, becoming the longest-running production in Broadway history until surpassed by Cats in 1997, and the longest-running Broadway musical originally produced in the US, until surpassed in 2011 by Chicago. It remains the sixth longest-running Broadway show ever.
The musical was formed from several taped workshop sessions with Broadway dancers, known as "gypsies," including eight who eventually appeared in the original cast.
During the workshop sessions, random characters would be chosen at the end for the chorus jobs based on their performance quality, resulting in genuine surprise among the cast. However, several costumers protested this ending mainly due to the stress of having to change random actors in time for the finale, resulting in it being cut in exchange for a more organized ending of the same set of characters winning the slots
Marvin Hamlisch, who wrote A Chorus Line's winning score, recalled how during the first previews, audiences seemed put off by something in the story. This problem was solved when actress Marsha Mason told Bennett that Cassie (Donna McKechnie in the original production) should win the part in the end because she did everything right. Bennett changed it so that Cassie would win the part.