We all tap our feet to this classic show tune with lyrics by Edward Kleban and music by Marvin Hamlisch from the huge Broadway hit, “A Chorus Line.”
Set in a chorus dancers audition for a 1970s Broadway musical, Flowertown Players starts its 44th season with it when it runs from Aug. 2-18.
It first opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on July 25, 1975 and closed 15 years later. At the time, it was the longest-running show in Broadway’s history but was later surpassed by Cats and is now the sixth-longest running show.
Regan: How did this ambitious musical, “A Chorus Line” get chosen to be performed at Flowertown Players?
Bates: The show was suggested by our play reading committee who does initial research on plays throughout the year. It is an ambitious show, but we knew David was a great director for it. What fun is it if we don’t challenge ourselves each year?
R: In the original, there were 17 dancers in a line auditioning. Will you have that many on your small stage? How many songs and dance numbers are in this show?
McLaughlin: I have an amazing cast of 24 including 17 triple threat principals “on the line” and seven swing/pit singers. Add a wall of mirrors and it gives the illusion of 50 dancers on our stage. The show is nonstop song and dance with many known favorites which have become theater audition standards: “I Can Do That,” “At The Ballet,” “Nothing,” and “What I Did For Love,” to name a few.
R: What are the biggest challenges for you as a director of this show?
M: I have directed over 130 major musicals, this being the third time I’ve done “A Chorus Line.” With every new production comes its own set of challenges and rewards.
My favorite part of working in community theater is that you are directing all levels of talent and experience. The ages of my performers range from 15 to 40.
There are performers who have been dancing and singing for years while others are making their theatrical debut. My job is to make sure that performances match each other in the end.
R: Was it difficult to find the right cast? Were you ideally seeking people who could each sing, act, and dance?
M: This show is very unique as it requires that all performers act, sing, and dance. Everyone is featured and there is no hiding behind someone else. I was fortunate in that Summerville has some of the best talent in the Charleston area.
R: How long did it take to rehearse this production? Is this your favorite musical? What’s next for you as a director?
M: We have rehearsed for eight weeks. Typically, I prefer to rehearse a musical for four to five weeks but, knowing the physical demand of this show, I wanted to give everybody a chance to safely adjust to avoid injury.
This show is in my Top 20, for sure. I have a lot of personal connections and memories associated with the first time I did the show many years ago. As far as myself?
I’m going to be taking some time off following the close of this show. I’ve been working on shows non-stop for almost seven years since I moved to the East Coast. I am ready for a nap.
R: Do you have any poetic license to embellish any particular scene or aspects of the play?
M: This musical is based on the stories of real performers. What I love so much about it is that the performers can tap into their own real-life experiences and put a little of their own truth into their character. Whether that means we are taking poetic license or simply making it our own, I will leave to the audience to decide.
R: What’s next for Flowertown Players for this coming season?
B: We have a wonderfully diverse season which leans on the comedic side with shows like “A Doublewide,” “Texas Christmas,” “Over the River and Through the Woods,” and “Moon Over Buffalo.” Classics like “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” bring to light relevant themes and lessons. Our Underground Series will produce four ambitious shows, “Ghost Quartet,” “A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney,” “Wit” and “Romeo and Juliet.” We are also bringing the City of Arendelle to the stage in this year’s youth production of “Frozen, Jr.”
Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a Publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com.