A Chorus Line Revival To Play San Francisco's Curran Theatre in 2006

Written by Maya Cantu

Ever since it was announced a few weeks ago that A Chorus Line would be receiving a revival in the fall of 2006, debate has raged between purists and revisionists. The former argued that the show's references to such dated institutions as Robert Goulet and silicone grounded it in a particular time, and wanted Michael Bennett's legendary staging to stay intact. The latter thought that the references could easily be updated, and that new staging and choreography would breathe new life into a classic beloved by theatre people and non-theatre people alike.

Happily for the purists, their concerns were shared by the revival's creative team. When A Chorus Line plays its one and only pre-Broadway stop at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, the show will be set in 1976. The only changes will be technical ones to the lighting and to Robin Wagner's famous rotating mirror set, and Hamlisch will add updated synthesizers to his orchestrations. John Breglio, Bennett's former lawyer who will produce the revival, believes that no more are necesarry. As quoted in The San Franciso Chronicle, he said of the show: "It's both of its time and timeless."

Although Bennett, lyricist Edward Kleban, librettists James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante and producer Joseph Papp are not alive to see A Chorus Line kick up its Capezios once again, original Liners will be on board, including Hamlisch, Wagner and original co-choreographer Bob Avian. Avian, who was also Bennett's best friend and one-time roommate, will recreate Bennett's fabled, fabulous choreography. Avian says he feels a duty to stay true to Bennett's original vision: "He's always up in the balcony screaming at me."

A Chorus Line's genesis and history have entered the annals of Broadway lore. A bittersweet valentine to the hopes, illusions and ambitions of nearly-anonymous Broadway gypsies, the show originated as a long series of workshops between Bennett and his dancers. The show was the first ever to come about in such a way, and was groundbreaking too in its content and structure. Never before had a show dared to take on the stories of mere chorus dancers, and never had these stories been telegraphed onstage in such a remarkable way. Dancers shared triumphs and tragedies while being interviewed at an ultra-competitive audition. The show boasted a suberbly-written, contemporary book by Kirkwood and Dante, as well as a score by Hamlisch and Kleban that was by turns hilarious and heartbreaking.

After premiering at Joe Papp's Public Theatre, the show moved to Broadway and received nine Tony nominations. It won Best Musical, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The show proceeded to rack up a record-breaking 6,137 performances and closed in 1990. It's status as the longest-running musical in Broadway history was uninterrupted until 1997, when Cats overtook it. A despised film version starring Michael Douglas and directed by Sir Richard Attenborough flopped in 1985.

A Chorus Line would not have been the phenomenon it was without Michael Bennett behind it. Bennett choreographed such shows as Promises, Promises and Company before co-directing Follies in 1971. Along with Bob Fosse, Bennett spearheaded a new generation of Broadway director-choreographers, and after A Chorus Line, he served as both for the flop Ballroom in 1978 and for the hit Dreamgirls in 1981. Bisexual, he died tragically young at the age of 44 of AIDS-related lymphoma.

Bob Avian has worked as a director, choreographer and producer. Most recently, he choreographed Putting It Together, Sunset Boulevard and Miss Saigon. In addition to co-choreographing A Chorus Line, he co-choreographed and co-produced Ballroom and produced Dreamgirls.

Marvin Hamlisch has won distinction both in Hollywood and on Broadway. His most famous film score is perhaps for The Way We Were (he also wrote the title song), and he has won numerous Academy Awards. For Broadway, Hamlisch also composed the music for They're Playing Our Song, Smile, The Goodbye Girl, and most recently, 2002's Sweet Smell of Success.

Robin Wagner is one of the premiere Broadway set designers, having done the sets for the original Broadway productions of dozens of shows. The most famous include Hair, Promises, Promisies, Jesus Christ Superstar, Mack and Mabel, On the Twentieth Century, 42nd Street, Dreamgirls, Chess, both Angels in America, LaChiusa's The Wild Party, The Producers and The Boy from Oz.

A Chorus Line will open in San Francisco's Curran Theatre in the summer of 2006. San Francisco is fast becoming a hotspot for Broadway tryouts, having played host to those of La Boheme, Wicked and two shows that will open this season--Lennon and The Mambo Kings
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