On The 45th Anniversary Of ‘A Chorus Line’

Me as ‘Mark’ in the national touring company of A Chorus Line

“Who have you been with my son?”

Funny you should ask…

Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, listening to original Broadway cast recordings, I somehow discovered A Chorus Line.

It was dynamic and cool, and mysterious (“Give me somebody to dance for…”) and…..some stuff I didn’t understand (yet).

And then I saw the show on Broadway at the Shubert Theater and it flew by! Like the album on steroids. So fast!

And all the stories! Brilliant and raw and funny and, and, and, and somewhere up there, I saw…me.

Who would guess in a few years I’d be cast in the national tour company with the original Tony Award winner, Donna McKechnie? Directed by original cast member Baayork Lee?

The show became an enormously important part of my life. Not one performance went by that I didn’t look up to ‘the second balcony’ during the 11 o’clock number “What I Did For Love” and thank the universe for the ‘chance to dance.’

Today is, incredibly, the 45th anniversary of the opening night of A Chorus Line on Broadway. What an incredible gift this show has been to me.

From ‘Mark’ to ‘Bobby’ to directing the show and passing on what I learned from Donna, Baayork, Kay Cole (original ‘Maggie’), and my dear wonderful Thommie Walsh, I say thank you.

#whatididforlove

p.s. If you know the show, you know the monologue I quote to begin this post 😉

News Round-Up: October 24, 2019

The men of Chippendales rock Belgium

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: The Chippendales stopped in Belgium for a one-night-only performance, and the place sold out completely. Keep up with the men of Chippendales on their Instagram here.

Advocate: A gay reporter for ABC News traveled to Chechnya to document the horrific treatment of LGBTQ people in the Russian republic. Along the way, he became part of the story.

Washington Blade: Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), the only out bisexual in the U.S. House, is in the middle of an increasingly growing scandal in which she has now admitted she had an “inappropriate” relationship with her campaign staffer before she took office.

Playbill: Tony Award winner Donna McKechnie is now hosting her own weekly podcast, The Ladies Who Lunch. Each episode, McKechnie will gather with friends at Sardi’s to discuss their showbiz pasts and more. For her first episode, McKechnie (who originated the role of Cassie) welcomes her A Chorus Line castmates: original Morales Priscilla Lopez, original Connie Baayork Lee, and original Sheila Kelly Bishop.

CBS News: After Donald Trump trolled rock icon Bruce Springsteen from the campaign stump, the rocker responded: “The stewardship of the nation has been thrown away to somebody who doesn’t have a clue as to what that means. And unfortunately, we have somebody who I feel doesn’t have a grasp of the deep meaning of what it means to be an American.” #BOOM

OUT: Facebook and Instagram have issued new guidelines about sexual expression on the social media platforms. Users will no longer be able to add eggplant or peach emojis to messages that have a sexual nature anymore. Plus, no more using emojis to cover nude body parts. AND – no more linking to sites with sexual content. So, no more promoting OnlyFans or JustForMyFans pages from Facebook or Instagram.

Twitter: At a rally last night, Donald Trump told the crowd his administration is “building a beautiful wall” in Colorado. I keep wondering if anyone told him it’s New Mexico, not Mexico, that borders Colorado…? #4thGradeGeography

Broadway: “Gypsy Of The Year 2016” Raises Over $4.4 Million

Broadway Cares shares the good news:

Broadway’s best spread messages of unity, hope and resilience through satire, song and dance December 5 and 6, 2016, at the 28th annual Gypsy of the Year competition.

Gypsy of the Year , which celebrated six weeks of dedicated fundraising from 55 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies, raised $4,492,636 for Broadway Cares. The grand total was announced Tuesday by Tony Award winners Cynthia Erivo and Jessie Mueller and Hamilton star Javier Muñoz following two incredible days of performances. Erivo, Mueller and Muñoz also presented the awards to the top fundraisers and best performances across the two afternoons.

The company of Hamilton took top honors for best onstage presentation. In “America,” the cast mashed up the music and lyrics of Bob Marley and Lin-Manuel Miranda and the poetry of Langston Hughes into a call for peace and equality in our country. Javier Muñoz and Syndee Winters led the integration of song and word, with the cast channeling the duo’s sentiments into a powerful, striking dance.

The company of The Lion King was runner-up with a moving spoken-word piece giving voice to those marginalized by the current political climate. The piece, written by cast member L. Steven Taylor and choreographed by Ray Mercer, found four isolated actors, and a dancer expressing their words through movement, finding common ground in fighting for each other’s plight. The piece concluded with the performers declaring in unison, “I will never leave you alone.”

This year’s edition of Gypsy of the Year opened with a energetic dance featuring the return of Broadway legends Baayork Lee, Donna McKechnie and Margo Sappington. The dynamic trio recreated their unforgettable “Turkey Lurkey Time,” which they originated in 1968’s Promises, Promises.

Tony Awards On CBS Tonight!

In advance of tonight’s Tony Awards show on CBS at 8PM, I wanted to reflect back on the days when the Tonys would pay tribute to the giants of the Broadway world.

From the 1970s through the 1980s the telecast, in addition to handing out the awards for excellence that year on Broadway, would deliver world-class numbers and entertainment honoring the artists of the Broadway genre.

In 1988, a year after 7-time Tony Award winner Michael Bennett’s death, original cast members of A Chorus Line and Dreamgirls came together for a terrific montage to remind of his genius.

More than any other director or choreographer, I think (in my mind) I’ve hoped to aspire to the kind of vision Michael brought to his work.  Breaking ground time after time with Company, Follies, A Chorus Line and the breathtaking Dreamgirls, I’ve had a visceral connection to his genius ever since I can remember understanding who he was.

Watch below – AND don’t forget to watch the Tony tonight!

Thanks to my blogger buddy Wicked Gay Blog for reminding me of this fab clip.

Donna McKechnie Joins Broadway Cast of THE VISIT

Tony Award-winner Donna McKechnie has been announced as standby for another legend, Chita Rivera, in the upcoming Broadway musical, The Visit.

“Who else could go on for a Broadway legend like Ms. Rivera but another Broadway legend?” said producer Tom Kirdahy in a statement. “The tradition of an actor standing by, should the star not be able to perform, though unlikely in Ms. Rivera’s case, has been turned on its ear by this news. We are ecstatic that Donna is joining our company.”

She will stand by for the 82-year-old Rivera, who plays Claire Zachanassian, a wealthy courtesan who returns to the small village where she grew up, in order to destroy the man who robbed her of her virtue when she was a girl.

Based on the 1958 drama of the same title by Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt, The Visit musical has a score by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, and a book by Terrence McNally. Choreography for the two legendary dancers will be supplied by Graciela Daniele.

How thrilled I am that these two Broadway icons become part of this new musical for Broadway. I had the opportunity to work with both for long periods of time. My first national touring company of A Chorus Line starred Donna; and early in my CHICAGO the Musical journey I worked with Chita when she was playing “Roxie Hart” in the Las Vegas leg of the national tour.

Love them both. As does everyone.

It’s not well known, but back in the 1990s the producers of the musical The Goodbye Girl (starring Martin Short and Bernadette Peters) were in talks with Donna to standby for Bernadette. Unfortunately the show closed before the deal was done, but the same logic was in play there: who better to go on for a Broadway legend than another Broadway legend?

With Chita Rivera backstage at CHICAGO the Musical

Backstage at an all-star benefit where I helped choreograph a number for Donna McKechnie