Michael Bennett's history-making "A Chorus Line" opens at Chesapeake Music Hall tomorrow for a two-month run on weekends through Nov. 18. When the show opened on Broadway in 1975, it broke ground as a concept musical with neither story nor stars.
Twenty-five years later, "A Chorus Line" retains its power as an honest, affectionate commentary on the lives of "gypsies" (a theatrical term for chorus dancers). In addition to portraying the dancers accurately, Bennett, the pre-eminent choreographer of the 1960s, did some innovative "cinematic staging" for this show and introduced the use of mirrors to expand the stage and add Broadway razzmatazz.
The story reflects dancers' self-searching at an all-night workshop held by Bennett. Nicholas Dante and James Kirkwood wrote the book, based on dancers' stories that evening, and it later became the show about the dancers' auditioning for jobs in the chorus.
Marvin Hamlisch's music evolved from the original taped sessions, along with lyrics by Edward Kieban. With the show centered on the auditioning dancers, most of the drama is in the music.
First, we meet the dancers at the audition, with each desperately wanting a job in the chorus, expressed in "I Hope I Get It."
We learn about their love for dance in "At the Ballet" and early aptitude for it in "I Can Do That." In "What I Did for Love," the show's best-known song, Cassie reflects on life after her dancing career.
CMH's version will be co-directed by Sherry Kay and Katy McAllister Danckaert, with Doug Dawson as music director.
The cast includes Jerry Vess as Zach, the director. Kristi Ambrosetti plays Cassie, who dances too well for the chorus. Others in the cast include Shannon Benil playing Laurie, Johnny Cassell as Don, Ashley Adkins as Maggie, and Glen Jeffries as Mike.
Also appearing will be Lynn Garretson as Bonnie, Charlie Rogers as Greg, Peter Crews as Bobby, Andrea Ostrowski as Bebe, Tenley Newcomb as Sheila, Heather Beck as Judy and Chase Taylor as Richie. Ronnie Schronce is Al, Lesley Rauch is Kristine, Ashley Eichhorn is Val, Bradley Moore is Mark, Vince Kirk is Paul, and Jen Perillo is Diana.
"A Chorus Line" will be presented Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and Sunday afternoons at the music hall. Season subscriptions are available with a four-show and a six-show plan.
Subscriptions or seats for only "A Chorus Line" can be ordered by calling the box office at 410-626-7515 or 800-406-0306. Chesapeake Music Hall is off U.S. 50 at 339 Busch's Frontage Road.