Last year, it was Jonathan Larson’s “Rent.” This year, it’s “A Chorus Line,” the musical that debuted at Joe Papp’s Public Theater 40 years ago this month.
Based on the stories of a corps of Broadway dancers, “A Chorus Line” shines the spotlight behind the leading players to show that there are sacrifices and choices and determination a bit farther back from the footlights, too. It culminates in “One,” a song that became a gold lamé anthem for New York in its darker days.
As each of the dancers on “the line” get his or her moment, the musical addresses image and effort and sexuality and art.
There’s also the story of Cassie and Zach. He’s in charge, she’s hoping to land a spot in the chorus.
Noah Mazer, 18, a senior plays Zach; junior Fiona Quinn, 16, plays Cassie. (That’s Fiona and Noah inset.)
Mazer is usually stage manager at Hastings, but producer/poobah Gerard Marciano sought him out for the role this year.
“Marce kinda headhunted me,” Mazer says. “He saw me perform in ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)’ in the fall. I guess he liked me in the role, but also the boys we have wanted to be in the show itself and I don’t sing or dance.”
“I’m a dancer, so when I heard it was ‘A Chorus Line,’ I was ecstatic,” Quinn says. “I knew there was going to be a lot of dancing. Last year, ‘Rent’ was great, but not so much dancing. And I love the music.”
Quinn, who studies ballet, jazz, tap and modern, says this show is “mostly jazz with a little tap.”
“When people think ‘A Chorus Line,’ they think it’s a dance show, but it’s really an acting show,” she says. “There’s so much depth to the characters and so much character development. It’s so dramatic that it’s more an acting show than a dancing show and I really began to realize that.”
Mazer likes what the finale — that gold lamé number, “One” — represents.
“It’s what the audience would have seen. Everybody in the chorus is surrendering their identity to become one,” he says.
Quinn likes “A Chorus Line” from the very top of the show.
“I like how it starts in the middle of an audition so the audience is meant to feel like they’re walking in on something. It’s fun to act nervous at the beginning of a show, because that comes so naturally at the beginning of a show. And we’ll probably all be nervous for the show.”
While he doesn’t sing it, Mazer, a senior, is partial to the song “Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love.”
It’s a song about change, adolescence in particular, but the soon-to-be-graduate sees parallels to his life.
“Right now, it’s relevant to my life, because I have two months left of high school,” he says. “The sound is hopeful, but still everything is going away.”
I think that’s what they call bittersweet, like the feeling of opening a show you know will run only one weekend.
“A Chorus Line”—7 p.m., April 24 and 25; 1 p.m., April 26—$10, $5 students, seniors free—At door.
Here’s the Running Lines video I shot at Hastings. Enjoy!