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January 22, 2019

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Broadway classic ‘A Chorus Line’ hitting Shanghai stage

ON a bare stage for a musical audition, 17 dancers will tell their stories and pas­sion for dancing, as Broadway Musical “A Chorus Line” is staged at SAIC Shanghai Culture Square until January 27.

In January 1974, a group of dancers gathered at a rehearsal room in New York, discussing their dim futures. With the whole Broadway business going down, many productions started cutting dancer numbers to reduce budgets.

Michael Bennett, a popular choreogra­pher at the time, visited the dancers with a recorder, asking every one of them to talk about their stories. Who are you? Where are you from? And why did you become dancers? Based on these stories, “A Chorus Line” was born.

Directed and choreographed by Ben­nett, “A Chorus Line” was first staged off Broadway and soon brought to Broad­way with unprecedented box office and critical acclaim. The musical received 12 Tony Award nominations and won nine, in addition to the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The original Broadway production ran for 6,137 performances, and became the longest-running pro­duction in Broadway history until being surpassed by “Cats” in 1997.

The musical is being staged in Shang­hai this time and is the latest production directed by Baayork Lee, who was also one of the 17 dancers in the original pro­duction of “A Chorus Line.”

There were very limited opportunities for Asian performers on Broadway, but Lee was lucky to get her first chance at 5, when an Asian child performer was needed for Musical “The King and I.” But she got fired at 8 when she grew out of her costume.

According to Lee, “A Chorus Line” was an innovative work in 1974, not only as it covered a variety of characters includ­ing one Asian, one Africa-American, two Puerto Ricans, and even a gay character, but also because it presents the real sto­ries of every performer on stage.

“There were not much stage-setting, but a quite bare stage just like what a real audition is. And we didn’t have to act, but just to tell our own stories,” said Lee.

Date: till January 27, 2pm, 7:30pm

Venue: SAIC Shanghai Culture Square

Address: 597 Fuxing Rd.

Tickets: 80-880 yuan


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