The Gypsies of Broadway

Dancers kill themselves in a show. 
They’re always the low man on the totem pole. 
They work like dogs, they get less money than
anybody else, and they don’t get any real credit. 
I want to do a show where the dancers are the stars.

-Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett, the creator of A Chorus Line, is now considered one of Broadway's greatest choreographers. However, his career began as one of the dancers or “gypsies” in the chorus of Broadway musicals. He was a rising star in the industry when he decided to put together a show that tells the story of the gypsies who he considered the unsung heroes of Broadway. Bennett wanted to bring to life the stories of those who work so hard and make it look so easy – how through pain, injury, rejection and doubt, they shine on stage eight times a week, without complaint and they do it for the chance to perform in front of an audience. Some want fame, but most just want a job - a job they do for love.

In 1975, a time when the country was struggling with a recession, cynical in the aftermath of Watergate, the Vietnam War, with the Cold War still raging, Broadway in decline and Times Square degraded to a center for pornography, prostitution, felony crime and drug dealing - Michael Bennett – a dancer – a revered gypsy – decided to create A Chorus Line and against all odds went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Tony for Best New Musical and numerous other accolades. It became a huge hit, marking the beginning of Times Square revival, which beckoned audiences back to Broadway. It still holds the Broadway record for the longest running musical produced in the United States with 6,137 performances. The London productions Phantom of the Opera (8,835), Cats (7,485) and Les Misérables (6,680) are the only shows to have had longer runs on Broadway.

A Chorus Line started as workshop “share” sessions. Michael Bennett organized a group of dancers to talk about their personal and professional lives. The sessions were tape-recorded, then written down. A Chorus Line took the dancers’ own words and in a powerfully simple setting – a bare Broadway stage – told their stories through words, song and, especially, dance. It was utterly unique. With A Chorus Line, Bennett incorporated what he called "cinematic staging." There was constant "jump-cutting" as the audience's attention was shifted from one figure to another. Bennett brought things into sudden focus as in a film through stage dissolves, close-ups, montages and wipes. Equally effective, creative and dramatic was Bennett's use of mirrors in the show. It was musical staging that went beyond anything other musicals had ever presented.

Ogunquit Playhouse has been working for years to acquire the rights to present A Chorus Line, and will proudly do so this summer under the direction of Luis Villabon. Villabon has enjoyed the honor of restaging Michael Bennett's original direction and choreography for many companies, most recently, the Italian National Tour. Mr. Villabon's career began as a dancer in A Chorus Line, directed and restaged by Baayork Lee, the choreographer for the recent Broadway revival, eventually serving as Ms. Lee's assistant on many productions of A Chorus Line. Starring in the role of Zach in the Ogunquit production is Lorenzo Lamas, the Hollywood star who in addition to his television, film and stage credits is also the son of Broadway star Arlene Dahl and film idol Fernando Lamas. Lorenzo made his stage debut at the Ogunquit Playhouse as the King in the King and I. Executive Artistic Director Bradford Kenney has also acquired the Broadway sets and costumes, to recreate one of the most revered Broadway Musicals of all time. The Playhouse is honored to present what is sure to be a first class, powerful experience for audiences.

For a fantastic addition to the Playhouse experience, see the documentary film "Every Little Step." This documentary gives audiences a backstage look at the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line. The film traces the casting of the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line and explores the late Michael Bennett's creation of the original production. It includes testimonials from A Chorus Line's initial workshop tapes, which feature the voices of the original 1975 cast members. Lorenzo Lamas has seen it already and has given it two thumbs up! Check local listings for theatres and show times.