Monday, May 20, 2024

A NY Night to Remember: Special “A Chorus Line” Raises $2 Mil for City Center’s 75th Anniversary


Can you even get a ticket to see “A Chorus Line” at City Center? Last night kicked off a week of performances of the full show in a magnificent revival directed by Bob Avian and starring a cast that rehearsed for three weeks and caught lightning in a bottle.

Lots of famous people came including Jake Gyllenhaal, Tituss Burgess, Bebe Neuwirth, Sutton Foster, Christian Borle, Daphne Rubin Vega, composer Tom Kitt, ballerina Tiler Peck, designer Michael Kors, and original “A Chorus Line” cast members Donna McKechnie, and Baayork Lee. They were not disappointed.

“A Chorus Line” was last revived in 2007. Somehow, now, it’s better than ever. You only realize now what geniuses Michael Bennett, Ed Kleban, and especially Marvin Hamlisch were. Every song is a gift. The dancing is like a dream. It’s a perfect show that holds up so, so well. (Oh yes, they changed one cultural reference– from Lana Turner to Tina Turner.)

So this cast was just great. Tony Yazbeck. Broadway’s secret weapon who should be the star of some big TV show already, leads them Zack, the choreographer. Yazbeck, a Tony and a Tony winner — for “On the Town”–is like a modern Gene Kelly. Damien Chazelle, this is your next star. This cast is otherwise bursting with talent: Kate Bailey, J.Elaine Marcos, Robin Hurder (we’ll see her next fall in “Moulin Rouge”), Tommy Bacco, Denis Lambert, Anthony Wayne, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Ahmad Simmons– we’ll see him as Ben Vereen in Tom Kail’s FX series on Bob Fosse– the whole cast — sensational.

Who knew City Center was 75 years old? They had a $75 million renovation in 2010, and the joint– a Moorish style theater– continues to resonate with their Encores musicals, and Manhattan Theater Club productions. Cate Blanchett has performed there twice recently. City Center has energy uniquely its own, and somehow translates to the productions. Really, “A Chorus Line”– set to play just 6 more shows through Sunday– could just sit down and stay. Bravo!

This was the ticket in town last night– culminating in a swinging, triumphal dinner at the Plaza Hotel Ballroom. Two million was raised for City Center, not counting the tickets you’re going to try and buy this morning!

PS I heard some very new 70s orchestrations– heavy fuzz guitar a la “Shaft” and a little “Love’s Theme” by Barry White–they fit the setting, 1975, perfectly.



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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