When A Chorus Line opened on Broadway in 1975, it revolutionised the notion of what a musical could be. Current then and still current now, this new staging of A Chorus Line will be the first professional production in Australia to feature entirely new choreography.
Honouring the vision of the musical’s original creator, the legendary Michael Bennett, one of Australia’s most accomplished dance talents, Amy Campbell is rethinking the piece to reflect the dance-styles and life of the artist in the 21st Century.
Campbell has choreographed some of the country’s biggest musicals; Hair, In the Heights (winning the Sydney Theatre Critics Award for Best Choreography of a Musical, as well as being nominated for a Helpmann Award), and most recently, Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s sell-out season of Once.
“Blood, sweat and tears don’t date. To be the first in Australia to bring A Chorus Line to life with new choreography and direction is thrilling,” says Campbell. “The original production has stood the test of time and now I want to be part of introducing it to the next generation of performers and giving it back its electric pulse.”
A Chorus Line is based on the real-life anecdotes of 24 dancers, who were interviewed by the show’s creator, Michael Bennett. They had joined him at his East Side studio one weekend in January 1974 for a midnight workout. Rivalry and wine paved the way to a weekend of divulged secrets about their upbringing, coming-of-age, sexuality and careers.
“I am so passionate about letting these stories be heard again and reinstating their relevance out of the 1970s,” says Campbell. “These stories were based on real people and I want to show that almost 50 years later these stories translate across time, gender and ethnicity. Themes of bullying, racism, sexism, power and passion are still faced every day, just as they were in the 1970s. We like to think we’ve come so far, but have we?”
In a 1975 New York Times article, Michael Bennett recalled how, after spending months listening to the recordings, he “realised that what those kids had been doing was auditioning their lives for me.” Those 19 characters represent the breadth of diversity and sacrifice that continues to fuel the dance world and fascinate audiences everywhere.
The original Broadway production redefined what it meant to have a long run. Opening on 19 October 1975 it closed 15 years later after a total of 6,137 performances, its iconic and epic kick line at the finale becoming synonymous with Broadway.
While this is a completely new production, Darlinghurst Theatre Company will not be scaling it down. “Darlinghurst Theatre Company is the perfect venue to reimagine and push the boundaries of this show,” says Campbell.
“The intimate nature of the space will make 19 dancers feel like 100. You’ll feel their sweat, pain and joy in every row. You’ll be up close and intimate with these characters who, by their very nature, expose all their vulnerabilities and talent for the chance to be seen and heard. The physical energy is going to be electric.”
A Chorus Line plays at the Eternity Playhouse from 13 March to 19 April 2020. Tickets on-sale Wednesday 25 September 2019. For more information, visit: www.darlinghursttheatre.com for details.
Image: A Chorus Line – artwork by Daniel Shipp & Evi O