Printer Friendly - Original ACL

Original ACL
Posted by King of the City 2013-02-22 19:19:44

I was doing research on A Chorus Line and I realized that it did not say anything about a preview period? Did this show just skip over that period because if its prior run and just open immediately. I know times are different and that it was a simple show (no sets) but don't most shows go through at least 5 or more previews? If that is not the case does anyone know what was?

Original ACL
Posted by aasjb4ever 2013-02-22 19:23:21

According to Playbillvault, it didn't play any previews.

Original ACL
Posted by EricMontreal22 2013-02-22 19:23:52

It opened off-Broadway and had a long workshop period--by the time it moved to Broadway, the show was solid.

Original ACL
Posted by King of the City 2013-02-22 19:23:58

Most sources say the same thing and I was just wondering if anyone knew why?

I figured that would be the reason Eric, thanks.

Original ACL
Posted by EricMontreal22 2013-02-22 19:25:20

Here's the off-Broadway run info from the Lortel off-Broadway archives. Apparently it ran 101 performances

Original ACL
Posted by King of the City 2013-02-22 19:46:20

Thanks for the link. I knew about ibdb but I never knew there was one for off-Broadway! Was there any other shows that transferred without having a preview process?

Original ACL
Posted by EricMontreal22 2013-02-22 20:38:55

No problem, I only discovered the site myself a half year or so ago.

Not sure as to your other question, though it looks like Hair had no previews when it transfered, even though it did go through some changes IIRC. Godspell on the other hand had 5 previews (oddly as it ran off-Broadway for years before the move.) Rent also had previews as did Spring Awakening.

And I'm blanking on other transfers. One thing is often now when shows move from Off Broadway to Broadway they take a break between the transfer--Chorus Line and Hair didn't really (again IIRC.)

Original ACL
Posted by ~tiny~ 2013-02-22 21:19:19

Dragged my college bf to see this at the Public theatre (newman theatre, I think), in 1975. It was adv. in the NYT and, at that time, me and my friends had a contest to see how many off bway shows we could see in a yr. The place was packed, and 20 minutes in, the audience was stunned, and in a good way. We all went out for drinks after, on St Mark's place, and couldn't believe what we had just seen. It was THAT different. Who knew? 38 yrs later?

Original ACL
Posted by King of the City 2013-02-22 21:22:21

Eric, those where the exact shows I was thinking about when I was writing this thread! (Spring Awakening, Godspell, and Avenue Q) but I did not think of Hair.

I recently became more familiar with this show because it was a possibility that my high school might have been able to get the rights. I would hope to see this once again on Broadway although I'll give it time since it was just on and did not last that long.

Original ACL
Posted by Michael Bennett 2013-02-22 21:22:54

It wasn't customary for shows that moved to Broadway from Off Broadway to be re-reviewed in those days, so there wasn't really the need for a traditional preview/press opening for A CHORUS LINE in its transfer from the Public.

Original ACL
Posted by MissAnneThrop 2013-02-22 21:25:14

The 1982 "Joseph" went from off-broadway to broadway w/o additional previews.

Original ACL
Posted by frontrowcentre2 2013-02-22 23:28:56

The Best Plays of 1975/76 has a note about this show:

"This production was presentede off-Broadway from 4/15/75 through7/13/75 for 101 performances. It opened on Broadway 7/25/75 but did not hold its press date until 10/19/75 following the musician's strike."

Normally, the performances between July 25 and October 19 were prior to the "press" night and would be considered previews but the opening is listed as July 25 and the total performances seem to be counted from that date.

Original ACL
Posted by GavestonPS 2013-02-23 05:20:12

King of the City, since you're writing a paper, let me correct your notion that the original Broadway production of ACL had "no sets". I was the local production coordinator when the International Company played Miami and it took a 40-man crew a full work-week to put up those "no sets".

In fact, the show used hard legs instead of the cheaper cloth draping because Michael Bennett would have it no other way. (I assume he wanted to be sure there would be no movement of fabric as people danced on and off.)

And the polyhedrons with the black, mylar (a relatively innovative use of the material) and gold sides that make up the back wall were actually quite intricate. They have to move in unison and instantly throughout the show; they also have to move in both directions.

I do know what you meant and you're right: the goal is to make it look like there is "no set". But as so often happens, it takes a lot of extra work to achieve the appearance of simplicity.

Original ACL
Posted by GavestonPS 2013-02-23 05:23:13

Eric, did GODSPEL transfer directly from off-Broadway to Broadway? Maybe I just forgot about it at the time, but for some reason I thought it closed and then re-opened as a new production.

Original ACL
Posted by devonian.t 2013-02-23 07:53:14

Gaveston a very insightful comment! Effective simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve!

Original ACL
Posted by Princeton78 2013-02-23 09:56:02

The original off-Broadway production of Godspell closed on 6/13/76 (a Sunday), at the Promenade. The Broadway production previewed on Thursday the 17th at the Broadhurst, and opened the following Tuesday the 22nd. I cand imagine they did anything to the show. The only difference was a bigger house, and the cast was full of veterans who'd likely played the show in much bigger venues than the Broadhurst on various national tours.

Original ACL
Posted by King of the City 2013-02-23 11:12:48

Thanks for that post Gaveston. I will definitely use that and look more into that.

Original ACL
Posted by Gothampc 2013-02-23 12:23:53

Actually ACL did previews when it was running off-Broadway. If you read some of the history, you see that bits of the show were changed due to audience reaction.

For example, Dance Ten, Looks Three was originally called Tits and Ass. However, the creators realized that they would get a better reaction from the song if the audience didn't learn the punchline by reading it in the program.

Some people credit Marsha Mason as being the one who convinced Michael Bennett that Cassie had to be one of the performers selected at the end. Early on it was said that Cassie was not one of the final chosen.

And Neil Simon was brought in to write a few funny lines to punch up the script. Pam Blair who played Val mentioned one time that she thought what Simon had written for her was awful and persuaded Bennett not to use Simon's line for her character.

Original ACL
Posted by PalJoey 2013-02-23 15:49:57

It had "previews" at the Public. I was lucky enough to have seen it there. My story is in this old thread on the Off Topic Board:

Original ACL
Posted by BWF 2013-02-23 16:10:58

To pick up on what Gothampc said, Marsha Mason recounted that tale in her book: Journey: A Personal Odyssey.

Original ACL
Posted by GavestonPS 2013-02-23 19:16:36

Thanks for the GODSPELL info, Princeton.

joey, I envy those of you who saw the show before the press attention got so huge. It must have been a wonderful discovery!

Don't get me wrong. I loved the show and thought it was brilliant, but by the time I saw it a few months after opening, I expected nothing less. (I'm still grateful the International Company played Miami and I got to see 8 shows per week for two months (a record run in Florida in those days).)

ETA anyone who skipped over pal joey's link needs to go back and read what he wrote about the show at the time of the revival. It's a very smart and moving short essay that puts the show in historical context.

Original ACL
Posted by EricMontreal22 2013-02-23 19:46:04

I don't think King meant to imply the off-Broadway run didn't have previews and changes--just the transfer... And I agree, that link PJ posted is great, I had forgotten about that thread, so enjoyed re-reading it.

There are a number of great books about the making of, but my personal fave for facts (of the original productions, going through the end of the run and details on the various touring companies and the West End production) is The Longest Line which has great photos, but even better the text is all made up of bits of interviews taken for the book from dozens of people--including people who worked on the costumes, or designed the posters. It can go from gossipy (the apparently huge problem with cocaine use *during performances* in the early 80s which caused a change in Equity rules) to interesting but rather banal things like how the box office system changed over the 15 years of the run.

There are sample pages on amazon. I found through Amazon marketplace a great quality ex-library edition for 5 bucks, 4 or so years back after I saw the tour, but it looks like it's getting scarcer as even used copies are over $30 now...

Original ACL
Posted by Idiot 2013-02-23 21:14:21

PalJoey, I hadn't read the older post of yours that you linked above. I still have slightly uneasy but mostly warm chills running up my spine.

I have my own story about the first time I saw the original ACL -- it was at the Shubert, probably the late seventies or very early eighties -- and I was a kid and it was a very important, personal moment in my life. Your framing of the show, however, is touching and chilling on a global scale. Thanks for (re) sharing it.