Theater: A CHORUS LINE opens at Sacramento Music Circus

The Finale of A Chorus Line at Sacramento Music Circus

Finally getting a chance to exhale as I’ve spent the past two weeks in Sacramento choreographing what feels like a new, fresh and creative A Chorus Line for Sacramento Music Circus.

Uber-proud of the fab cast and crew there. We opened Tuesday night this week to excellent reviews (thank you, thank you, thank you – grateful), and now I’m back at home in Las Vegas with hubby Michael, Bruno the wonder dog and the rest of the pups.

I can only describe this as a truly calm, creative and collaborative experience working with one of the best and most respected directors in theater today – Stafford Arima. The producers of the theatre thought we would make a good team, and I’m happy to say it was a joy from beginning to end.  I think it’s rare you walk into an experience with a new “team-mate” and find such a solid connection and unified artistic vision.  Everyone connected to the production from Stafford to our music director Valerie Gebert to the designers who brought the show to life were all on the same page.

I will admit there was a tiny amount of trepidation on my part in taking the job since, as you can guess, A Chorus Line makes “the line” an integral part of the show.   Staging a show that is iconically about a line –  IN THE ROUND – can make for some big creative leaps in order to honor the Pulitzer prize-winning material.

I’ve been associated with the show for 29 years, performing it for the first time in 1985. Since then, I’ve been a part of the show as an actor in many national and regional productions (with original cast members Donna McKechnie, Baayork Lee and Kay Cole), and as director/choreographer of several productions in my own right.

Releasing my decades of experience with the show could have been much more difficult, except for our secret weapon – director Stafford Arima. Stafford did not have a history with the show. And that, coupled with his innate talent for questions and creativity moved the show from just another “step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch” to a very new, “out of the box” production.

When my muscle memory would sometimes kick in, and I’d think “how do we…?,” Stafford would ask “do we have to do it that way…? What if we…?  Could we…?” and suddenly new ideas became reality.

Do we have to form a single line in the finale?  Can “At The Ballet” spread out to the entire theater?  Can we use mirrors in the production without blocking the audiences view?  

“Deconstructed” became the catch word.  And as Martha Stewart would say, “This is a good thing.”

The only things I made sure I brought to the production were ideas/concepts that I had learned over the years from original Broadway cast members that honored the integrity of the piece. The voice of the individual; that everyone is special.  The further and further we got into the rehearsal process, the more comfortable I was that we were doing Michael Bennett (the original Tony Award winning director/choreographer) proud in sharing the intent of the piece.  It was never about starting on the right or left foot – it was about what were we saying.  As Stafford would say over and over “Trust the text.”  I would add, “the Pulitzer Prize-winning” text.

I did find one special place with which to land the iconic “logo” line of the show.  That made me happy.  To find out where, come see the show 🙂

Sacramento Music Circus photog Charr Crail (production pics) and cast member John Williford (rehearsal and opening night pics) shared several photos with me that I’ve posted here to give you a sense of the journey that is this A Chorus Line.

Should you be interested in what the critics had to say, you can read the Sacramento Bee and Broadway World reviews by clicking those links.  I’m very grateful for the kind words all around.

And, there’s a video montage from the production featuring this fab cast below.

Thanks to all at Sacramento Music Circus.

 Kick, ball, change and thanks to everyone for doing “what you do for love.”

“Hello 12, Hello 13” with the company

Jen Foote (“Sheila”), Juliane Godfrey (“Judy”) and Katie Huff (“Kristine”)

Eric Sciotto as “Zach” and Kate Levering as “Cassie”

The Finale

Opening ballet combination with Courtney Iventosch (“Lois”) and Kate Levering (“Cassie”)

Nick Varricchio as “Mike Costa”

Adam Fleming and Katie Huff as “Al” & “Kristine”

Xavier Cano as “Paul San Marco”

The Opening of A Chorus Line at Sacramento Music Circus

Zach (Eric Sciotto) rehearsing “One”

Taking a break with the cast during rehearsals

In rehearsal: “At The Ballet”

Drew Humphrey (“Don Kerr”), Kat Murphy (“Laura” & my associate choreographer) with me and hubby Michael at the opening night party.  More wine!

The exceptionally attractive cast of A Chorus Line at the opening night party

Even more of the gorgeous cast of A Chorus Line at the opening night party