Before “Smash” brought the dramatic realities of the stage to the small screen, or even “Glee” introduced musical numbers to young audiences, there was “A Chorus Line.”
“A Chorus Line” was an innovator in the realm of musicals when it was first produced in 1975. It brought the harsh and emotional stories of actors and dancers to Broadway audiences.
“It is a very unique musical,” said director Steven Fogell, who is directing the current production of “A Chorus Line” at Bainbridge Performing Arts.
Bainbridge Performing Arts will present “A Chorus Line” at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. Sundays, May 10-26.
“It was one of the first musicals based on reality, about actors trying to get cast in a Broadway show,” he said. “You learn where they come from and what caused them to have this passion for dancing.”
The story follows the dancers as they audition, revealing the trying and greatly emotional process.
“It’s a way for the general public to get an idea for what the casting process is like. And what’s great is that is holds true to today,” Fogell said. “It shows what you give up to take hold of your passions and dreams in the arts.”
“Most musicals, especially fantasy driven ones, there are all these costumes and set changes. This one all takes place in an audition room in a theater and the dialogue is the actors’ monologues so you are learning everything about their backgrounds,” he added.
“The director asks very candid questions about themselves, and they have to open up and talk about personal things that have happened to them and things happening currently.”
The play is challenging in that the characters are strictly built into the story with little room to change.
“It was a little more difficult than a normal musical, you can’t stray from what the play describes, they talk about how tall they are or their ethnic background,” Fogell said. “It’s very detailed.”
In the years since the musical hit the stage, it has only grown in popularity. It has been referenced throughout pop culture in mediums such as “The Simpsons” and its music has been included in films such as “Land of the Lost” with Will Ferrell.
It won the Pulitzer Prize for best drama in 1976 and Tony Awards for best musical, book and score.
“A Chorus Line” graced stages from New York to Buenos Aires after its ‘70s debut, and has experienced a resurgence in popularity during recent years with productions touring the United States and performances as far as Singapore and Glasgow.
Fogell noted that while the production is a musical, he gives it a PG-13 rating.
“It is very candid and there is some language,” he said.