Winner of nine Tony Awards, the 1975 stage classic follows a group of performers auditioning for a Broadway show. During the course of the day, the domineering director Zach encourages them to reveal their histories, hopes and dreams as he slowly but surely narrows down the field to a lucky few.
While the show is 36 years old, Michael Baron, Lyric’s artistic director, said it still speaks to the experience of performers today, which he hopes to drive home with an adaptation that honors the show’s history while bringing it into the 21st century. “When I asked David Marquez to direct it, I challenged him to make the show immediate and fresh. I wanted him to choreograph new dances in addition to re-creating the classic Michael Bennett choreography,” Baron said. “There are also new takes on familiar monologues and an updating of the costuming so that the show is no longer clearly in 1975, but is more about the life of performers today.”
Marquez said he isn’t exactly reimagining the production.
“That would be like trying to re-paint the Mona Lisa or re-write ‘Hamlet,’” he said. “Instead, I hope to breathe fresh breath into it — kind of like shaking out a beloved old tapestry or restoring a priceless antique.”
Broadway veteran Robert Montano has taken on the role of Zach. He saw “A Chorus Line” when he was 20 and had been dancing only two months. Shortly afterward, he auditioned for it.
“The play tapped into something inside me, especially the moment when one of the dancers injures himself. When I was 16, I was a professional racehorse jockey, and at 18, I became too physically big to make the weight,” Montano said. “Mother Nature took that profession away from me. I felt robbed from my love, my passion, just like the character in the show.”
As the egotistical Zach, Montano gets to explore a character with whom he has little in common.
“I was that skinny kid in high school that was stuffed in a locker, so to play Zach has been great fun for me,” said Montano.
Oklahoma native Lexi Windsor has the role of Sheila, an older dancer full of pride and resentment.
“In my career, Sheila is unlike any other character I’ve had to play before, and I love stretching my comfort level, plumbing her depths and coming up with a resplendent disaster,” she said.
Windsor previously played Val in Lyric’s 2001 “Chorus” production. After graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma, she moved to New York to follow her dream.
“I began to learn the truth of the business, and the stories in ‘A Chorus Line’ began to make a whole hell of a lot more sense,” she said. “Sometimes I examine the show and I think, ‘What am I doing in show business?’ Other times I think, ‘There is absolutely nowhere else I would rather be than right here on this stage.’”