A new production of "A Chorus Line" at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse made its debut last week and included a special gathering of the musical's alums in honor of the late composer, Marvin Hamlisch. NY1's Frank DiLella filed the following report.
It is not the first time the 1975 musical "A Chorus Line" has been seen at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, but this current production is being performed in honor of one of the show's creators.
Without skipping a beat, "A Chorus Line" alums old and new gathered last Sunday night to pay homage to the musical's award-winning composer, Marvin Hamlisch. Following the opening night performance, members of the original production, along with dancers from the recent Broadway revival, joined the Paper Mill company on stage to perform the show's signature song, "One."
Mitzi Hamilton, a Michael Bennett dancer turned director, helmed the opening night tribute and the Paper Mill revival. Her connection to "A Chorus Line" stems from the original production, as she was the inspiration for the character of Val of "Dance 10 Looks 3" fame.
"Thirty-seven years later and here we are celebrating this great musical. I want to make sure we do Michael proud, and now Marvin as well," said Hamilton.
Hamilton's current "A Chorus Line" company is peppered with dancers who have roots in the 2006 Broadway revival.
Jessica Lee Goldyn, who plays Cassie, performed both Val and Cassie in the 2006 Broadway production. Rachelle Rak finally gets to play Sheila, the role she lost out on in the final round of auditions back in 2006. That disappointing journey was famously captured in the documentary "Every Little Step."
"People used to tell me, 'You are Sheila, Rachelle,' and honestly she is a part of me, for sure. But now I get to experience her in a different time of my life," said Rak. "And I am so grateful for Mitzi Hamilton, who also allowed me to bring a little bit of Rachelle to Sheila."
The original Sheila, Tony Award-winner Kelly Bishop, was on hand to applaud Rak's performance.
"I don't see a lot of productions of 'A Chorus Line,' but invariably I have over the years seen them, and I spend a lot of times squirming in the audience and mumbling to myself and cringing over a lost moment or something is too broad or too hard," said Bishop. "So it was a pleasure to watch her doing Sheila the right way."
"A Chorus Line" is playing at the Paper Mill Playhouse through October 28.