begins a career in dance dwelling on thoughts of how difficult, painful and
short it might be. But the truth is, dance demands discipline, sacrifice and
suffering. Our bodies are the stuff of which this art is made, our dreams and
desires given physical form. In dance there is nowhere to hide. The delicate
work of revealing ourselves is undertaken with great courage and care. Michael
Bennett understood that it also takes love, lots of love. And if you don’t love
dance, don’t do it. It’s just too hard. And yet, so often when we witness
wonderful dance, they make it look so easy. How does that happen? Michael
Bennett’s genius was to hit upon a way to reveal how that happens and what it
costs. Every time we set foot on stage we risk disappointment and disaster but
also elation and transcendence.
A Chorus Line, with its Pulitzer Prize-winning book and
the complex, irresistible music of Marvin Hamlisch, puts the audience right in
the centre of this experience. Dancers must be actors, must be singers, all in
equal measure. And like a Penn and Teller routine, we see a bit of the “how,” a
glimpse of the “why,” and lose none of the magic.
here, why now?
Bennett imagined things unavailable to him on the Broadway stages of the 1970s,
a space where his actors could reach their audience unimpeded by the standard
orchestra pit, a space that allowed an intimate focus on one story as well as
the cacophonous clamour of many. Well, Stratford is such a place. Our stage was
designed to accommodate exactly those demands, and our orchestra, though very “live”
and brilliant, is upstairs and behind us. My first moments on this stage
twenty-six years ago convinced me that the Festival would be an exceptionally
good fit for A Chorus Line. And when Michael’s friend and executor John
Breglio and I walked onto the Festival stage together last year, he agreed.
John also agreed that, had Michael lived to see and been able to use this stage
and our dancers, he would have re-imagined the show in this space. Convinced of
my deep affection and respect for Michael and his work, John has graciously
allowed me to do that in his stead. We are not trying to pretend we are
anywhere other than where we are. This is Zach’s theatre. And I get to live a
dream: I have directed and choreographed A Chorus
Line on and for the Festival stage.
A Chorus Line debuted in 1975. The moment I
heard those now famous first two counts of six that start the show, I knew what
I would grow up to be. I have worn many hats since, but I never forget my
shoes. We have assembled an exceptional company who are standing by to put
themselves “on the line” for you.