In the middle of the 1970s, a play took the oldest story of Broadway and made it the show: A Chorus Line.
With music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban, the musical focused on the 17 dancers chosen for a new Broadway show.
Each character is competing for eight spots in the production, revealing themselves and their past as they try to show their dance skills.
Zach is the director with his assistant Larry and the dancers are a mix of men and women vying to get chosen. The backdrop of the musical is a bare stage, with the focus on the dancers.
For several months, the musical was tested in front of audiences, changing from an ending where the final cuts are revealed to a storyline that follows those that the viewer know will and won’t succeed.
Debuting off-Broadway at New York City’s Public Theatre in April 1975, the production borrowed US$1.6 million to make it work, and the advance buzz surrounding the musical worked – the run was sold-out in advance.
Producer Joseph Papp moved the musical to Broadway to the Shubert Theatre in July 1975, where it stayed in production in New York City until April 1990.
The original cast included Robert LuPone, Priscilla Lopez, Donna McKechnie and Sammy Williams, all nominated for Tony Awards. Williams and McKechnie both won Tonys, while the musical won the Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Choreography, Best Book of a Musical and Best Score, as well as winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1976.
One of the classic musicals of Broadway, the musical travelled, performed in London’s West End, as well as Sweden, Argentina, Australia by the end of the decade.