BWW Interview: Ryan Koerber of A CHORUS LINE at MAYO Morristown Performing Arts Center
I had the privilege of chatting with Ryan Koerber who plays Bobby in the National Tour of A Chorus Line playing 34 cities around the country this year. He gives us the inside scoop of what we can expect from this traveling revival of the iconic show!
Give our readers a little background about yourself!
I'm a native new Yorker, I grew up on Long Island and I became very involved with performing and studied acting and dance. And then in High School I had the opportunity to perform on Broadway for the first time at the Jimmy Awards. After that I began my BFA degree at Montclair State University in North Jersey and ever since I've been working on professional stages and this is my first National Tour!
Tell me about this production!
This production is based off the 2006 Broadway revival which was nominated for two Tony Awards so we are setting that staging that may be a little different from the original production, using the revival's costumes but it's also obviously based off the original show. The tour is directed and choreographed by Baayork Lee who was one of the original cast members of the show. She's gone on to direct over 35 productions of A Chorus Line. It's really beautiful, it's a beautiful revival of the show. It takes place in 1975 in a Broadway theater so what you're seeing on this tour is truly what you'd be seeing in any Broadway revival they would mount today.
What was the audition process like?
I went in to dance for Baayork Lee in May 2017 and I got through a few rounds of the audition and I didn't really hear anything and then over the summer I went off to work at different Summer Stock places and I had heard they were auditioning for the tour again in September and I wasn't going to go back in because I figured that I wasn't asked back because the characters are so specific so there was probably a reason why I wasn't cast. The day I got back to New York I was working the Chita Rivera awards on Broadway handing out awards and cue cards to the presenters on stage and Baayork Lee and two of the original cast members were presenters. Baayork Lee winked at me as I was handing her the cue card and I said to myself maybe I should go back in for this audition. Went back in, through a series of call backs and a week later I got a call offering the part of Bobby!
How familiar with A Chorus Line were you prior to being in this show?
I grew up loving the show. My dance teacher who was one of my biggest mentors growing up, she's a Broadway performer, she was in a production of it when I was in middle school. I went and it was the first time I ever saw the show and it was the original staging and ever since then I just fell in love with it. It truly has inspired me to continue to dance. It's cool how everything comes full circle.
In what way are you like your character Bobby and in what way are you different?
Well Bobby and I are extremely different. The character is based on Tommy Walsh who created the role on Broadway and I admire his career because he went off to become a choreographer after the show. But we are very different in the sense that I don't break into people's houses and I don't set things on fire but one thing I think is truly special about this character is his perseverance and drive. There's a scene towards the end of the show before we sing What I Did for Love called The Alternative Scene and Zach the director of the characters in the show asks everyone "What are you going to do when you can't dance anymore" and Bobby responds with "I can't worry about that because I plan on kicking these legs as long as I can." So that's one way I feel that Bobby and I are really similar because of our passion and love for what we do.
It was super special in this rehearsal process because Baayork Lee sat us all down in a circle and she explained to us how they wrote the show because every character is based on the person who originated the role on Broadway. So we sat us all in a circle and we went through the montages in A Chorus Line "Hello 12, hello 13, hello Love." She asked all of us what we were doing at those ages and then asked "what would you do if you couldn't dance anymore, if tomorrow was the last day you could walk into the studio what would you do with the rest of your life?" We had a very heavy conversation and it was a truly special moment for the cast to come together.
Why do you think A Chorus Line is still such a relevant piece?
The show is so iconic. It's always been successful it's a Pulitzer Prize winner, it's won 9 Tony Awards. I think in this show everyone, whether you're a dancer or not, can find something to relate to. The entire show takes the audience from 4 years old to being past 30's, needing a job, the love and passion for what they do.
Is there anything else our readers should know about this production?
It's the original staging, our orchestra and cast are truly outstanding. We play 34 cities in the US. When people leave the theater we all hope they are touched by the story each character tells and we hope that they are reminded of their own passions and what they love to do.
To learn more about our featured star please visit his website www.ryan-koerber.com.
A Chorus Line will be playing at the Mayo Arts Center in Morristown New Jersey March 3 at 3:00 and 8:00 and March 4 at 3:00. For more information on the show visit http://achoruslineontour.com/and for tickets https://www.mayoarts.org/.