The Raleigh, NC-based North Carolina Theatre will open its ambitious 2014-15 season of home-grown professional productions of hit Broadway musicals with a vivacious version of the multi-award-winning 1975 Off-Broadway, 1975 Broadway, and 1976 West End musical A Chorus Line, directed and choreographed by original London cast member Mitzi Hamilton, on Oct. 14-19 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. (Hamilton also directed and choreographed NCT’s 2002 production of A Chorus Line.)
A Chorus Line, which features music by Marvin Hamlisch (1944-2012), lyrics by Edward Kleban (1939-87), and a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. (1924-89) and Nicholas Dante (1941-91), premiered Off Broadway on April 15, 1975 at the Joseph Papp Public Theater/Newman Theater, where it ran for 101 performances before closing on July 13, 1975.
Then this “singular sensation” (to coin a phrase), directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett (1943-87), made its Broadway on July 25, 1975 at the Shubert Theatre, where it ran for 6,137 performances before closing on April 28, 1990. A Chorus Line won nine 1976 Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical (Michael Bennett), and Best Choreography (Michael Bennett and Bob Avian). It also won seven Drama Desk Awards — including Outstanding Musical/Book and Outstanding Music and Lyrics — and the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Then, in 1984, the show received a special Tony Award when it was honored as Broadway’s longest-running musical. (Note: A Chorus Line currently ranks sixth, behind The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Chicago, The Lion King, and Les Misérables.)
The 1985 motion-picture version of A Chorus Line, directed by Richard Attenborough from a screenplay by Arnold Schulman, was nominated for three 1986 Academy Awards, including Best Music, Original Song (“Surprise, Surprise,” with music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Ed Kleban). The cast featured North Carolina Theatre actor and director Terrence Mann as Larry, the assistant to an unseen Broadway director and choreographer named Zach. (Note: On October 28th, Mann will receive the City of Raleigh’s Medal of Arts Award for his contributions to NCT and the local theater community.)
According to the North Carolina Theatre:
“[Our] production of one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals will be both choreographed and directed by Mitzi Hamilton, a member of the original London cast and one of the dancers whose story inspired A Chorus Line. Ms. Hamilton’s interviews with original A Chorus Line director/choreographer Michael Bennett helped bring the colorful character ‘Val’ to the stage. She later went on to perform as ‘Val’ in the Broadway production. In addition to her illustrious career as a Broadway dancer, Mitzi Hamilton has also achieved great success as a director and choreographer, most notably for her work in A Chorus Line.
“Nathaniel Shaw will play the role of ‘Zach,’ the unseen director. Shaw is currently serving as assistant choreographer on the Broadway production and National Tour of Once. Acting credits include regional productions of A Chorus Line, Cabaret, Oklahoma!, Footloose, and Damn Yankees, among many others. Shaw is also an experienced director and choreographer.
“Jessica Lee Goldyn will reprise the role of ‘Cassie.’ She appeared as ‘Cassie’ alongside Shaw’s ‘Zach’ in 2013 and made her Broadway debut in the role of ‘Val/Cassie’ in 2005, giving her nearly a decade of professional experience with the show. Credits include Off-Broadway’s On the Town, the National Tour of Fosse, along with many regional roles.
“North Carolina Theatre Conservatory’s own Tito Hernandez, who will play the role of Zach’s assistant ‘Larry,’ an established dancer, actor, and choreographer whose passion for theater permeates beyond the stage. Hernandez is the director of dance at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory, North Carolina Theatre‘s arts education program in North Raleigh, where Hernandez uses his more than 20 years of stage experience to cultivate local talent. Hernandez made his Broadway debut in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway and his NCT credits include choreography for Evita, The King and I, and several NCT Conservatory productions.
“The talented cast includes many North Carolina natives/locals. Ashley Adamek returns to her hometown and North Carolina Theatre to reprise the role of ‘Kristine,’ which she played here over seven years ago. She was most recently seen on Broadway in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and previously in the national tour of Chicago.
“N.C. natives and NCT Conservatory alums Kelsey Walston and Kinsland Howell will return to the North Carolina Theatre stage. Walston will appear as ‘Bebe’ This will be her fourth time performing A Chorus Line. Her other NCT credits include The Little Mermaid, Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Annie, High School Musical, and more. Howell last appeared on the NCT stage in last season’s The Little Mermaid and Cats.
“Rounding out the principal cast is local Raleigh actor Todd Michel Smith, alongside Tiffany Chalothorn, Alexander Cruz, Sidney Dupont, Alexandra Fassler, Logan Keslar, Brandon Rubendall, Rachel Schur, Sean Seymour, Jonathan Stahl, Bronwyn Tarboton, Hilary Michael Thompson, and Nick Varricchio. Ensemble includes: Anthony Acosta, Samantha Marie Allen, Josie Bodle, Justin Gaab, Allison Nock, Ahmad Ratliff and Sunny Smith.
“About A Chorus Line: Winner of nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, A Chorus Line … centers around the struggles and dedication of a group of dancers auditioning to be on the chorus line of a Broadway show. The show is based on interviews with real chorus dancers.
“Director and choreographer Michael Bennett used these stories as the basis for this groundbreaking show and transformed them into a hit musical. A Chorus Line includes such memorable hits as ‘One (Singular Sensation),’ ‘What I Did for Love’ and ‘I Hope I Get It.’ Its authentic drama and captivating music have made A Chorus Line one of the pillars of the American musical form.”
In addition to A Chorus Line, the North Carolina Theatre‘s 2014-15 season will include Nice Work If You Can Get It (Jan. 20-25 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium), Billy Elliot (Feb. 10-15 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium), Peter and the Starcatcher (March 10-15 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium), Next to Normal (May 1-3 and 5-10 in A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater), and The Buddy Holly Story (July 21-26 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium). Nice Work If You Can Get It and Peter and the Starcatcher will be co-presented with Raleigh-based Broadway Series South.
SECOND OPINION: Sept. 26th Raleigh, NC WRAL.com preview: http://www.wral.com/nc-theatre-s-a-chorus-line-kicks-off-rehearsals-for-october-production/14013260/ and Aug. 21st preview: http://www.wral.com/original-london-cast-member-mitzi-hamilton-to-direct-and-choreograph-nc-theatre-s-production-of-a-chorus-line/13913275/; and Aug. 27th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com preview by the BWW News Desk: http://www.broadwayworld.com/new-jersey/article/Original-A-CHORUS-LINE-Star-Mitzi-Hamilton-Directs-and-Choreographs-at-Surflight-Theatre-Now-thru-914-20140827.
The North Carolina Theatre presents A CHORUS LINE at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14-17 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 and 19 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $37.32-$122.24 (including fees).
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/803630.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949; email@example.com; or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/group-sales.
2014-15 SEASON: http://www.nctheatre.com/2015-shows.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the 2 p.m. Saturday, October 18th, performance.
A Chorus Line (1975 Off-Broadway, 1975 Broadway, and 1976 West End musical): http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=1058 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Chorus_Line (Wikipedia).
Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: https://www.centertheatregroup.org/ (Center Theatre Group of Los Angles, CA).
Marvin Hamlisch (music, 1944-2012): http://marvinhamlisch.us/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=11816 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvin_Hamlisch (Wikipedia).
Edward Kleban (lyrics, 1939-87): http://www.rnh.com/bio/55/Kleban-Edward (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization bio), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=13009 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Kleban (Wikipedia).
James Kirkwood, Jr. (book, 1924-89): http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=6603 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Kirkwood,_Jr. (Wikipedia).
Nicholas Dante (book, 1941-91): http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=7890 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Dante (Wikipedia).
Mitzi Hamilton (NCT guest director): http://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Mitzi-Hamilton/ (BroadwayWorld.com bio) and http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=81367 (Internet Broadway Database).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail email@example.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)