memories of the ’80s – A Chorus Line

ChorusLineMovie.jpgDebuting in the 1970s as a stage production, the next decade brought the story of Broadway dancers to the big screen in A Chorus Line.

With a screenplay by Arnold Schulman, which was based on the play and a book written about the stage production by James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante, the film was directed by Richard Attenborough.

Initially Michael Bennett, who was the stage production’s director was considered for the project, but he declined to work with Universal Studios as Bennett wanted the film to be the same as the play.

Many directors turned down the offer to direct the film for Universal Studios, before Attenborough said yes, and Embassy Pictures became the co-producer, with Polygram Records on board to release the film soundtrack.

The film starred Michael Douglas as Zach the director/choreographer and Terrence Mann as the assistant choreographer, with a bevy of dancers playing the chorus who are hoping to get chosen for the production.

But the film differed from the play, with several songs from the stage production not included, and two new songs were added. The storyline of gay actors was also deleted from the film and the focus was on young dancers trying to get a role as opposed to veteran dancers faced with their last change to become stars on Broadway.

Released in December 1985, Attenborough’s interpretation of A Chorus Line to the big screen was met with mixed reviews, some critics kinder than others in their comments about the film.

Viewers were not impressed, with the box office barely making US$14 million. The film budget was US$25 million.

The film was nominated for three Oscars – for Best Original Song, Best Film Editing and Best Sound and won two Golden Globes – Best Motion Picture for Musical or Comedy and Best Director, but it never captured the hearts of moviegoers the same as the stage production.

About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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