San Francisco Playhouse revives award-winning musical ‘A Chorus Line’

The San Francisco Playhouse production of ‘A Chorus Line’

A revival of the fabulous musical, A Chorus Line, has opened at the San Francisco Playhouse. Winner of the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, nine Tony Awards, four Drama Desk awards, three 1976 Obie awards and the 1984 Special Gold Tony Award for Broadway’s longest-running musical, A Chorus Line was described as “Frankly brilliant!” by the Telegraph, and by Time Out as “Enormously powerful!”.

The music for A Chorus Line was written by three times Oscar winner Marvin Hamlisch who wrote the scores for more than 40 films. These included The Way We Were and his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music for The Sting, and during his highly successful career he was also principal pops conductor with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC.

A scene from the San Francisco Playhouse production of ‘A Chorus Line’

A Chorus Line was lyricist Edward Kleban’s first Broadway musical. He won the 1975 Tony, Drama Desk and Olivier awards, and was posthumously nominated for both a Tony and Drama Desk award for his music and lyrics for the musical A Class Act, produced on Broadway in 2001. He is also known for the creation of the Kleban Foundation, which awards grants to aspiring theatre lyricists.
The book on which A Chorus Line is based was co-written by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, both of whom shared the Pulitzer Prize with Marvin Hamlish and Edward Kleban.

A scene from the San Francisco Playhouse production of ‘A Chorus Line’

This funny, yet heartbreaking, musical focuses on one day in the lives of the seventeen dancers, each of whom hopes to win one of the eight places in the chorus line of a Broadway musical. The director and choreographer asks each of them to talk about themselves, explaining that he wants to get to know a bit more about them. Reluctant to start with, the dancers nevertheless begin to share their life experiences, and the audience – through the revelation of these stories – begins to see the individual personalities of what appeared to be merely a group of performers.

Interestingly, these stories are based on the true experiences of actual Broadway dancers, as told to Michael Bennett – who conceived, directed and choreographed the original production of A Chorus Line. Bennett was an American musical theatre director, writer, choreographer and dancer who won seven Tony Awards for his choreography and direction of Broadway shows and was nominated for an additional eleven. Among the shows which Bennett choreographed are Promises, Promises, Follies and Company.

This San Francisco Playhouse production of A Chorus Line is directed by Bill English, with musical direction by Dave Dobrusky and choreography by Nicole Helfer. It runs at the Playhouse until September 9th, 2023. For more information and for tickets please visit the San Francisco Playhouse website.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Playhouse program notes

All photographs by Jessica Palipoli

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