I don't understand the message of the song "One" From ACL

Zeitoujo
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Can someone please explain.
"Those You've Known And Lost Still Walk Behind You"-Spring Awakening
Yankeefan007
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It's a song about a woman/man that is the production number of a major musical directed by Zach ____ in 1975.
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americanboy99
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It's highly ironic. They are singing about the stars they are not. They are simply chorus members, blended together in a synchronized dance number.

That's why the film's finale was so highly misinterpreted- too many close ups.
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meredithchandler73
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I only ever thought that the purpose of the number "One" was to show an ensemble doing their thing - no one standing out, everyone performing the same choreography without anyone pulling focus.
Jon
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Yes, but as Americanboy99 pointed out, there is irony in the fact that they are working their asses off singing the praises of some unnamed "star" - a leading lady who most likey is not as good a singer or dancer as the chorus members surrounding her.

Think about the title songs in "Hello Dolly" and "Mame". The leading lady is at the center of the number, but the chorus is really doing most of the work.
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theaterkid1015
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Well, we spent this whole show learning about each individual person. All of their stories. Now, they're nameless, heartless people in a line without all the soul we've come to love and root for. It's one of the saddest finales when you think of it that way.
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allofmylife
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They are sining about the one thing none of them will ever achieve - singularity.

The chorus members all know they work as a unit to back up "the star" and nothing they do, in any way onstage must distract from the utter "One-of-a-kindness" of the star.

The choreographer of the musicals I used to produce always warned the chorus dancers not to distract from the principals, but "If you DO make a mistake, do it with style, cause baby - that's your solo."
http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=972787#3631451 http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=963561#3533883 http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=955158#3440952 http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=954269#3427915 http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=955012#3441622 http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=954344#3428699
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Patash
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One minor point about one comment above. The song is clearly about a woman star, not a man. The word "she" is sung over and over again.
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Actually Patash, there is a point in the song where they say the word "he." I think it's when the men are the only ones singing. But other than that, the word "she" is used. (sorry, I'm in a production of ACL right now so it's kinda on my brain 24/7!) :)
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ljay889
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I would love know how you interpret any Sondheim song, Zeitoujo.
puppet
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My understanding of the number based on articles written at the time of the original procudtion is that One is the finale song of the show they all worked to get into and it was them backing up the unseen "star". That's why they are suddenly in flashy costumes in front of a gilttery backdrop.








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winston89
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I did a benifit with members of the revival cast. When I was in rehersals with the group I was doing the benifit with the MD who had been in a production or two of the show as Richie. He had said that the confusing thing about the lyrics of the song is that it feels like it keeps going back and forth between he and she so he was able to understand why some who were learning the song were confused at first.

That being said, I had always felt that the point of the song was that we spent the entier show learning about each of them as an individual. And, now that they are in the chorus backing up the star the indivduality is gone and they are working as one unit and no one knows who they are.
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roquat
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Michael Bennett originally wanted to stage it so that there was an ampty follow spot in front of the chorus representing the "star" they were all saluting. He said he could have made it so that the audience would never want to see another chorus line in a musical again.
I ask in all honesty/What would life be?/Without a song and a dance, what are we?/So I say "Thank you for the music/For giving it to me."
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Michael Bennett loved to do "mind-F*CKs" on the audience when conceiving his numbers. The irony of "One" is that we have spent the whole show learning about each chorus dancer in acute psychological detail--and then "One" shows that the job they are hired to do subjugates those very personalities to the star they will dance behind, the star they will never become. That was the "mind-F*CK" Bennett envisioned.

But the irony-upon-irony, however, is that Bennett's staging of "One" is so dazzling that it ends up making the dancers look distinctive and special despite the words they are singing. So rather than leave the audience with a sour taste, he leaves them exhilarated. And that, kids, is genius.

So it is the perfect finale for the show: We are all just kids on the chorus line, but if we perform our nameless, faceless labors to the best of our talent and with integrity, we are all stars.
Updated On: 7/19/08 at 09:23 AM
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Patash
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Amen, Pal Joey.
Can anyone think of a chorus only number from any other show that is so recognizable to the masses of the world other than One?
Marinacat
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I love PalJoey's response. Makes perfect sense.
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Yes - thank you PalJoey - that hits the nail on the head beautifully.
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PalJoey
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Now let's tackle "Who's That Woman?" from Follies.
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jrb_actor
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exactly. to echo what others have said, ACL is essentially a tragedy where the performers put in all that time and energy to become invisible in a thankless role. The show honors the hard work of performers who give their blood, sweat, and tears in this business.
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"Now let's tackle "Who's That Woman?" from Follies."

Well, if it's not a threadjack...

I remember reading somewhere that it was originally going to be staged with one of the older performers missing because the character had died, so when the mirrors dissolved the younger performer had no-one to mirror. Now, that definitely sounds like a mind-F*CK.
Boq101
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Scripps that was Sondheim's original idea. Michael Bennet didn't think it would work because they didn't have enough women to make the gap in the line that noticeable. He said that if they had 30 women it would be a great idea.
COOOOLkid
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the purpose of the number "One" was to show an ensemble doing their thing - no one standing out, everyone performing the same choreography without anyone pulling focus.

Apparently Nick Adams didn't get that memo.
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MyLife
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And although they are "faceless" and "nameless," as they all were in the beginning of the show, the one difference is they have achieved their dream and your in a sense rooting them on. So while it may be sad in one sense that they aren't individuals, you know behind the flashy costumes are the individuals in plain leotards. They are happy because their dreams came true, so you should be too. Everyone leaves the theater in a good mood with a greater respect for chorus people.

And as others reiterated, it's a number with mixed emotions. Achieving dreams (a positive) of becoming nobody (a negative).

It was debated whether to leave this number in or eliminate it altogether. I think they made the right choice by showing people why the 8 dancers chosen when the lights go down at the end are so emotional and ecstatic to have been picked. You get to see their dream. Unfortunately, I don't think the average theater goer understands that. Instead, the flashy costumes, fast tempo, and lights distract them from the true meaning of the song.
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I remember reading somewhere that Michael Bennett was talking about "One" to someone (I think it was George Furth) and he said that if he did his job right when the dancers finish doing "One" that the audience would sit there silent.

George asked, "The dancers are going to have top hats and be doing a kick line?"

Bennett answered "Yes."

"The audience is going to applaud."
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ggersten
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Ok. Y'all are discussing the finale "One" but I always think of the earlier rendition, when they are "learning" the number, and Zach is berating Cassie for standing out and not being "one" - and the number ends with that hard repetition of "One. One. One." I understood the song, in this part of the show, to be designed to show Cassie that she could not be part of the chorus anymore. And, I thought that was pretty obvious.