'A Chorus Line' arrives in Cape for one night only

Friday, January 25, 2013

The timeless musical that captures the struggle of dancers looking for their big break, "A Chorus Line," will hit the Bedell Performance Hall stage at the River Campus Monday night.

And with the popularity of big musicals at the venue, the show might be a sellout.

"I saw it performed on Broadway years ago, and it's mesmerizing," said Bob Cerchio, assistant director of the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts at Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus. "It's one of my favorite musicals."

"A Chorus Line," the winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical of 1976, tells the story of aspiring dancers auditioning for a new Broadway production. Every dancer is desperate for work, and 17 of them remain after the first cut. The show provides a glimpse into the personalities of the performers as they describe the events that have shaped their lives and their decisions to become dancers.

"It's how the dancers reveal their hopes and dreams that makes the musical relevant for the audience," Cerchio said. "It relates to anyone who's ever needed a job, not just in theater but in any capacity. Everyone has put it on the line at some point in their lives."

Cerchio added that Michael Bennett, the original director and choreographer of "A Chorus Line," based the characters in the musical on real people.

"Bennett had one-on-one sessions with many aspiring dancers and incorporated them into the production," he said. "For example, he met a female performer who could dance but couldn't sing. He created a character for her in 'A Chorus Line.'"

While the theme of "A Chorus Line" is of dancers trying to succeed against the odds, it is perhaps best known for its music composed by the legendary Marvin Hamlisch. The closing number, "One: Reprise," with the cast in glittering golden costumes singing about that "singular sensation," is a song known by even the most casual Broadway fan nearly 40 years after the original production.

"The songs have stayed with us," Cerchio said. "Though 'One' is performed twice in the musical, it has its greatest strength at the end. The beginning number, 'I Hope I Get It,' with its hope of success, sets the tone. The dancers are all trying to succeed."

The original Broadway production of "A Chorus Line" was an unprecedented box office and critical hit, receiving 12 Tony Award nominations and winning nine of them, in addition to the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It ran for over 6,000 performances, becoming the longest-running production in Broadway history until surpassed by "Cats" in 1997, and it was the longest-running Broadway musical originally produced in the United States until surpassed in 2011 by "Chicago." It remains the sixth longest-running Broadway show ever, and has enjoyed many successful productions worldwide.

The production of "A Chorus Line" visiting the River Campus will be performed by members of American Theatre International of New York City, and is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Bedell Performance Hall. Remaining tickets are offered at $49 and $43, and are available at rivercampusevents.com or by calling the River Campus box office at 651-2265.

Ellen Farrow, box-office manager at the River Campus, said tickets are in limited supply.

"A person will be taking a chance if they wait until Monday to get tickets," Farrow said. "I'll be shocked if we don't sell out."

klewis@semissourian.com

388-3635

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518 S. Fountain St., Cape Girardeau, MO

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