I didn't see the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line. I was, however, Hello Thirteen enough in 1976 when it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and nine Tony Awards. From a distance.
Lonely me-boys bought Original Broadway Cast Albums, back then. Broadway Baby theatre junkies. Misunderstood by others around us who were into 8-tracks of Eagles Greatest Hits. No tribe, just Cassie, and the dream of a chance to dance. For you. When she belted "give me a chance", I sang along, in any narrow mirrow reflection I could find.
I saw this magic for the first time when the first national tour of A Chorus Line came to the Lexington Opera House during the Dick Pardy era.
A few years later, I auditioned and became "Mike" in Lexington Musical Theatre's first regional production on the same stage. He's the goy who taps his way into a place on the Line, and captures the heart of the audience with his sung-story of his sister's shoes. Watching sis go pitter pat. Me. Are you kidding? Me.
As the show comes back to the Opera House this week, in a tour based on the recent 2006 revival, there will be many in the audience who will experience it for the first time. And, you know what, I will be in the audience, too, experiencing it for the first time. Again.
I've stood on the Line. I've been part of the 19 main characters who made "the cut".
I can tell you this: Being in the cast of A Chorus Line is grueling, satisfying work. I might even go so far as to use the biblical sense of the word work: worship.
You know that moment when the Line makes that perfect triangle of brilliance during the singular sensation during "One"? Have you ever wondered if the cast on stage feels the self-same energy? I have an answer for you, yes. And yes, and yes.
The cheers from the audience, who I have now become a member again, come from within. Yes. And yes. Cheers for the performers, but more-so for the heart of A Chorus Line that lives in all of us.
It is challenging, freeing, and celebratory.
God I hope they get it.