2012 Tony Awards Clip Countdown - Day 19: Michael Bennett & A CHORUS LINE
Continuing our extensive countdown considering many of Broadway's best clips as represented on Tony Awards telecasts recent and distant, today we look to the third and final clip from a Michael Bennett musical on our list - and, many would argue, the crème de la crème of them all - the only; the one; A CHORUS LINE. So, with that, a 5, 6, 7, 8...
No musical of the 1970s epitomized the era more than A CHORUS LINE. The musical theatre answer to the age of self-analysis and general Me Generation syndrome, A CHORUS LINE explored the lives, hopes, desires, ambitions, victories and plights of a group of gypsies - Broadway chorus dancers - auditioning for a particularly inquisitive director/choreographer referred to as Zach and represented by a disembodied voice for the majority of the one-act, intermission-less theatrical experience. Overflowing with stage pictures that would forever remain ingrained in the minds of the millions of theatergoers who saw the show over the course of its complete dominance of the theatre realm from its Off-Broadway debut in 1975 nearly to its Broadway closing at the end of the 1980s, Michael Bennett's masterpiece was everything a Broadway baby could ask for - and all of its majesty seemingly conjured out of nothing. Utilizing a deceptively simple design scheme of periaktoi mirrors and a single white line on the stage floor, Tharon Musser's lighting created magic out of thin air as Robin Wagner's set defied every expectation to become so much more than the sum of its seemingly sparse parts - and the same could be said for A CHOURS LINE itself. Immovably representative of a specific time in history, A CHORUS LINE is nonetheless a universal experience that still ingenuously conveys the truths of any profession and what we learn through hard work - what is worth it and what is not; and, most importantly, if we made our dreams come true and at what price. A CHORUS LINE is about the human experience and will forever be an irreplaceable and immeasurably influential part of the great pantheon of the American theatre - and it's a damn entertaining show, too. Its multiple Tony Award wins - Best Musical as well as Best Actress In A Musical for Donna McKechnie, Best Featured Actress In A Musical for Kelly Bishop, Best Featured Actor for Sammy Williams, Best Book, Best Score, Best Choreography, Best Direction and so on - are icing on an already impossibly rich cake.
Specifically designed for the home viewing audience, the A CHORUS LINE Tony Awards performance sequences were edited live on the fly to excellent effect by Michael Bennett and crew, masterfully utilizing the eight film cameras to capture all the action - at the time, an process quite unprecedented for such an awards show presentation - in the unforgettable "I Hope I Get It" at the very start of the 1976 show; in addition to the "One" finale.
Check out "I Hope I Get it" below.
Now, see "One" at the close of the show after it had just won Best Musical.
Also, get a glimpse of Kelly Bishop taking home the prize for Best Featured Actress In A Musical.
Following that, as a special bonus, take a peek at the 2007 Broadway revival of A CHORUS LINE, which was largely remounted using the original staging by Bennett's longtime collaborator Bob Avian. EGOT-winning CHORUS LINE composer Marvin Hamlisch introduces a medley of "I Hope I Get It" and "One", which are given rousing renditions by the revival cast of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical - used as an opening number for the Tony telecast here, as well - who take it from the streets of Broadway to the stage of Radio City itself in a striking and unique start to the show.
So, what is your favorite CHORUS LINE moment in a show filled to the brim with so many emotional and musical highpoints? Is it the breathlessly thrilling opening sequence? The moving and touching "At The Ballet"? Cassie's tremendous "The Music & The Mirror"? Paul's searing monologue? The coup de theatre finale of "One"? The show's biggest breakout hit, "What I Did For Love"? So many great moments to remember forever - and, thanks to the international success of A CHORUS LINE, if for no other musical in his storied career, Michael Bennett will never be forgotten. We should all be grateful his contributions to the theatre have been represented so well on Tony telecasts, with this clip being the finest example of a truly fine handful of such gems.
From This Author Pat Cerasaro