A Chorus Line

A TAMS-WITMARK TITLE

Full Length Musical, Dramatic Comedy  /  9f, 10m

Conceived and Originally Directed and Choreographed by Michael Bennett / Book by James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante / Music by Marvin Hamlisch / Lyrics by Edward Kleban / Co-Choreographed by Bob Avian / Original Broadway production produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, Joseph Papp, Producer, in association with Plum Productions, Inc.

It's one singular sensation! The groundbreaking, Pulitzer Prize-winning concept musical set a new standard for Broadway and remains relevant, poignant, provocative and explosively entertaining.

Photo: Joan Marcus

A Chorus Line
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OVERVIEW

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    9f, 10m
  • Duration
    Duration
    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Not Applicable
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Adult
    • Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13)
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)
Accolades
Accolades
  • Winner! The 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
    Winner! Nine 1976 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Book, Score, Choreography and Director
    Winner! Four 1976 Drama Desk Awards, including Best Music
    Winner! Three 1976 Obie Awards
    Winner! 1976 Theatre World Special Award
    Winner! 1984 Special Gold Tony Award in honor of becoming Broadway's longest-running musical
    Nominee: Two 2007 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival
Description
A Chorus Line is a stunning concept musical capturing the spirit and tension of a Broadway chorus audition. Exploring the inner lives and bittersweet ambitions of professional Broadway performers, the show features one powerhouse number after another. Memorable musical numbers include "What I Did for Love, "One," "I Can Do That," "At the Ballet," "The Music and the Mirror," and "I Hope I Get It." A brilliantly complex fusion of song, dance, and compellingly authentic drama, A Chorus Line was instantly recognised as a classic.
History
Opening Off-Broadway at The Public Theater on April 15, 1975, A Chorus Line, originally starring Donna McKechnie, Sammy Williams, Robert LuPone and Carole Bishop, transferred to the Shubert Theatre on Broadway on July 25, 1975 and ran for 6,137 performances before closing on April 28, 1990. On September 29, 1983, A Chorus Line became the longest-running show in Broadway history. In London it played 903 performances at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. It was revived at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway in 2006 and played for 759 performances.

A Chorus Line is a celebration of those unsung heroes of the American Musical Theatre: the chorus dancers -- those valiant, over dedicated, underpaid, highly trained performers who back up the star or stars and often make them look even more talented than they are. It is also a celebration of the American Musical itself. A Chorus Line is also about competition, and competition might easily be the common denominator that grabs the audience and holds it by the collective heartstring until the final, ultimate choices are made. For everyone, at one time or another, puts his life on the line. We all compete, no matter what business we're in, for promotion, for attention, for approval and for love. Specifically, A Chorus Line takes the audience through the final grueling audition run by the director, Zach, for a new Broadway musical.

At the beginning of the show, Zach, a driven, compulsive worker, has assembled thirty semi-finalists and is putting them through a vigorous series of dance combinations, including ballet and jazz. Soon he thinks this group down to the final sixteen, eight boys and eight girls. They and the audience know that eventually this number will be cut in half and Zach will choose only four boys and four girls to be in his new musical. Instead of having them read a short audition scene, Zach wants to elicit a personal history from each one: how they got into show business, why they became dancers, what their hopes, fantasies and aspirations are. As he calls upon them individually, they react in every possible way, from bravado to reticence. From childhood on, their memories emerge, blending into a seamless series of musical numbers and monologues, some humorous ("Dance: Ten; Looks: Three"), some poignant ("At the Ballet"), some group reminiscences when they all share their adolescent experiences ("Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love") and some intimate, as when he calls upon Cassie, his former lover who has returned from California to ask for a chorus job after having been a featured performer ("The Music and the Mirror").

As their individual stories pour out in song ("Nothing") and in spoken words (Paul's monologue), interspersed by learning dance routines that reveal their ability to perform as a faceless drill team ("One"), the audience, as well as Zach, gets to know each one of these ambitious entertainers individually, so that by the show's end, they can identify and root for their favourites as well as empathise with all of them because they all need the job -- they all want to work at their craft.

A Chorus Line departs from the usual glossy backstage musical by presenting a true picture of what it's like to be in the theatre: glamorous, yes, at times, but also tough, heartbreaking and sometimes even tragic, in the case of Paul who is knocked out of the competition by an injury sustained during a dance number ("The Tap Combination"). After these brave dancers explain why they go through a life filled with rejection and injury ("What I Did for Love"), Zach makes his selection, eliminating the last group who reluctantly leave the stage. The lights soon fade on the remaining eight ecstatic dancers as they are told to prepare for rehearsals of their new Broadway show. They fade only to come up as each performer, now dressed in full, shimmering finale costume, reappears to receive an individual bow before joining together to perform the brilliant dance finale ("One") and showing exactly the talent it takes to make it into A Chorus Line.

– James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante

Considerations

Performing Groups
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
Cautions
  • Strong Language
  • Mild Adult Themes

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Specifics

Details

  • Time Period: 1970s
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: A Broadway theatre, 1975.
  • Additional Features: No intermission
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes, Period Costumes

Casting

9f, 10m
Cast Attributes
  • Role(s) for Asian Actor(s)
  • Role(s) for Black Actor(s)
  • Role(s) for Latino Actor(s)
  • Ensemble cast
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
Running the Audition
(2 male)

Zach — Director/Choreographer
Larry — Zach’s assistant

Auditioning Actors
(9 female; 8 male — audition numbers in parentheses)

Cassie (no number)
Sheila (152)
Val (179)
Diana (2)
Judy (23)
Kristine (10)
Maggie (9)
Bebe (37)
Connie (149)

Mike (81)
Richie (44)
Don (5)
Paul (45)
Mark (63)
Greg (67)
Bobby (84)
Al (17)

Others*
(3 female; 4 male)

Vicki (60)
Tricia (131)
Lois (53) — ballerina; non-speaking

Frank (59) — headband boy; non-speaking
Butch (14) — non-speaking
Roy (36) — wrong-arm boy
Tom (40) — counts with his mouth; non-speaking

*Singers/Dancers used in large ensemble numbers, as Offstage Singers and as Understudies.

Note: Because the onstage performers are singing and dancing at the same time, the offstage singers are used for vocal support. However, the audience should never be aware of additional singers.

The original Broadway production had a cast of 26 performers. The show has no dedicated chorus. No doubling was employed.

Music

  • Musical Style: Pop/Rock, Contemporary Broadway
  • Dance Requirements: Difficult
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Medium
  • Chorus Size: Medium
1. "I Hope I Get It" – Company
2. Underscore: Morales – Orchestra
3. After Opening: The Line – Orchestra
4. Introduction: I Can Do That – Orchestra
5. "I Can Do That" – Mike
6. Introduction: And… -- Orchestra
7. "And..." – Bobby, Richie, Val, & Judy
8. Introduction: At the Ballet – Orchestra
9. "At the Ballet" – Sheila, Bebe, & Maggie
10. Introduction: Sing – Orchestra
11. "Sing" – Kristine, Al, and Company
12. "Montage Part 1: Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love" – Mark, Connie, & Company
13. "Montage Part 2: Nothing" – Diana
14. "Montage Part 3: Mother" – Don, Judy, Val, Diana, Maggie, Cassie, Al, Sheila, Greg, Paul, & Company
15. "Montage Part 4: Gimme the Ball" – Judy, Greg, Richie, & Company
16. "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three" – Val
17. "The Music and the Mirror" – Cassie
18. After Music and Mirror – Orchestra
19. End of Paul’s Scene – Orchestra
20. "One" – Company
21. Tap Dance – Company
22. "What I Did for Love" – Diana & Company
23. After What I Did For Love – Piano Solo
24. Bows ("One")– Company

Full Orchestration

1 Reed 1: Piccolo, Flute, Alto Flute (or Clarinet), Clarinet & Alto Saxophone
1 Reed 2: Piccolo, Flute, Eb Clarinet (or Flute), Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Alto Saxophone
1 Reed 3: Oboe (or Clarinet), English Horn (or Clarinet), Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
1 Reed 4: Flute (or Clarinet), Clarinet, Eb Contrabass Clarinet (or Bassoon), Bassoon & Baritone Saxophone

2 Trumpet 1 & 2 (both doubling Flugelhorn)
1 Trumpet 3 (doubling Flugelhorn)
1 Trombone 1 (tenor)
1 Trombone 2 (tenor)
1 Trombone 3 (bass)

2 Percussion 1 & 2:

(1) Mallet Instruments:

Glockenspiel
Vibraphone
Xylophone
Chimes
Timpani (2 drums)
Bongos (2)
Congas (2)
Triangle
Small Triangle
Wood Blocks (2)
Gran Cassa
Tom-tom
Tambourine
Cowbell
Maracas
Cabasa
Bell Plate
Bell Tree

(2) Trap Drums:

Bass Drum
Snare Drum
Hi-Hat
Cymbals
Tom-toms (3)
Floor Tom
Triangle
Wood Block
Cowbell

Keyboard 1 (multiple registrations; principally Piano)
Keyboard 2 (multiple registrations; principally Harp)
Keyboard 3 (multiple registrations; principally Strings)

Bass (Acoustic, Electric & Bass Guitar)

Materials

Scripts

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
1 Piano Conductor Score
18 Libretto/Vocal Books
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Reed 4
2 Trumpet 1&2
1 Trumpet 3
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
1 Trombone 3
2 Percussion 1&2
1 Keyboard 1
1 Keyboard 2
1 Keyboard 3
1 Bass


Piano Only:
1 Piano/Vocal Score
18 Chorus Vocal Books

Optional Performance Tracks:
Performance Tracks are available through MT Pit at an additional fee. Interested licensees should reach out to MT Pit directly to secure Performance Tracks.

Additional Resources And Services Available

Media

Press

“One of Broadway’s all-time greats, with more kick than most other shows combined.” – Time Out New York

A Chorus Line is still one of those musicals you will sing about to your grandchildren. It is an occasion of joy, an affirmation of Broadway and a smoke‐signal to the world that the musical can touch unexpected depths in the human heart.” – The New York Times

“Michael Bennett's work stands the test of time. We're lucky to have the opportunity to see this singular sensation once again, no matter what.” – Theatermania

“The startling simplicity of the show still impresses... The show suggests that theatre is both a metaphor for life and a way of escaping it, and there is something genuinely moving about the way it gives an individual voice to performers who are normally just part of an anonymous ensemble.” – The Telegraph

“The show remains an enormously powerful and affecting piece of work: one of Broadway’s all-time greats, with more kick than most other shows combined.” – Time Out

Music Samples

Videos

  • A Chorus Line - NY City Center, 2018

  • A Chorus Line - Málaga, Spain

  • A Chorus Line - 2013 Olivier Awards

  • A Chorus Line - Milan, Italy 2019

  • "One" - 2010 National Tour

  • "I Hope I Get It" - 1976 Tony Awards

More videos +

Photos

  • A Chorus Line

    Credit: Joan Marcus

  • A Chorus Line

    Credit: Joan Marcus

  • A Chorus Line

    Credit: Joan Marcus

More

Authors

Marvin Hamlisch

June 2, 1944—August 6, 2012As composer, Marvin Hamlisch won virtually every major award that exists: three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony, three Golden Globe awards, and the Pulitzer Prize (won by A Chorus Line). Only Hamlisch and Richard Rodgers have won a “PEGOT” (P.E.G.O ...

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James Kirkwood

James Kirkwood (1924–1989) was an American playwright, author and actor. In 1976 he received the Tony Award, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his work on A Chorus Line.Born in Los Angeles, Kirkwood began his career as an actor, appearing on ...

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Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett (1943–1987) was an American musical theatre director, writer, choreographer, and dancer. He won seven Tony Awards for his choreography and direction of Broadway shows and was nominated for an additional eleven.Bennett's choreography credits include Henry, Sweet Henry; Promises, Promises; C ...

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Nicholas Dante

Nicholas Dante (1941–1991) was an American dancer and writer, best known for having co-written the book of the musical A Chorus Line. Born Conrado Morales in New York City, Dante began his career as a dancer and performer, appearing on Broadway in Applause, Ambassador and Smith, among othe ...

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Edward Kleban

Edward Kleban (1939-1987) was the lyricist of A Chorus Line, for which he won the The Pulitzer Prize and the 1975 Tony, Drama Desk and Olivier Awards. Mr. Kleban's score for A Class Act was nominated for the 2001 Tony and Drama Desk Awards and also received an Obie Award. Mr. Kleban was a graduate ...

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