Facts about A Chorus Line FAQ
Masterworks Broadway recently reviewed Tom Rowan’s book A Chorus Line FAQ. While this is an FAQ book, Peter Filichia points out that Rowan doesn’t set it up as a simple question and answer book. Instead Rowan “gives a straightforward account of how one of the most beloved of Broadway musicals got started and succeeded.” To celebrate the musical’s 40th anniversary, Filichia soured A Chorus Line FAQ, for 40 fun facts…
In honor of the show’s fortieth anniversary, here are the forty facts from A Chorus Line FAQ that most interested me:
- Baayork Lee, the original Connie, calls A Chorus Line “the first reality show.” (All right, not quite, but I see her point.)
- The real Coco Chanel liked director-choreographer Michael Bennett so much that she “tried to persuade him to give up the theater in favor of the fashion industry.”
- Co-librettist Nicholas Dante’s real last name was Morales – a name that was certainly put to use in the finished product.
- Dante was one of two finalists for the ensemble of Applause; the other was Sammy Williams, who five years later would tell Dante’s story as Paul in A Chorus Line.
- Co-librettist James Kirkwood’s life story is one, as Jack Kruschen sings in I Can Get It for You Wholesale, “that only Turgenev maybe could write.” (How harrowing! I won’t spoil it for you here.)
- Bobby Thomas, a drummer, turned out to be far more important to the show than the average drummer is on a musical. (Once again, I won’t give away the story.)
- “Hamlisch was irritated by Kleban’s smoking.” So should we all have been; it cost the lyricist his life at the much-too-earlyage of forty-eight.
- Many who were involved early on doubted that the show was ever going to amount to anything, but the day that Hamlisch and Kleban performed “At the Ballet” gave them newfound hope.
- For the finale, the original plan was to have Zach, , the martinet director-choreographer, choose a person from the audience who would then be the centerpiece and star of “One.” (This isn’t in the book, but Number Eight started me thinking: How about a benefit performance of A Chorus Line in which our favorite female stars – Chenoweth, Foster, LuPone, McDonald, Menzel, Peters, et al. – take turns in being the star celebrated in “One”? As H.C. Curry says in 110 in the Shade, “I’d like to see that.”)
- There was much discussion on whether to keep to the time-honored two-couple structure of the average musical; you know, Billy and Julie aren’t alone in Carousel, for Carrie and Enoch are there, too. For a while, the Chorus Line creators thought that Zach and Cassie shouldn’t be the only ones with a romantic history, but that Sheila and Don should have previously been lovers, too.
Read the rest of the facts over at Masterworks Broadway!