A Chorus Line Returns to Broadway

In 1990 -- after 6,137 shows -- A Chorus Line closed its doors after a 15 year run on stage, at the time the longest run of any Broadway musical.

But now the show created for Broadway and about Broadway is back on Broadway.

The storyline, which follows 17 dancers desperately trying to land a role in the chorus of a Broadway show, exhibits the characteristics of the modern-day reality craze.

"This is the original reality show on stage," says Jeffrey Schecter, cast as "Mike," the first of the characters to tell his story, "You get an inside look of what it is to be a performer on stage and go through the audition process."

And like so many actors, Schecter has a real connection to the show.

"My 'I can do that" story is that I saw the movie Saturday Night Fever," Schecter says, laughing, "And I thought, 'Ok, that guy is a bad ass…I can shake my pelvis and do those things and have women begging to be with me, I can do that! I want to do that!' "

The idea for A Chorus Line was born during a workshop in the 1970s with actors and dancers telling their life stories, bearing their souls, in real, raw stories.

The legendary director and choreographer Michael Bennett used these stories, crafting "A Chorus Line" to illustrate that metaphorical line between desperation and hope.

"One day, Michael took a piece of chalk at the rehearsal hall and drew a line and said, 'OK, this is the line,' " reflects composer Marvin Hamlisch, "And once he did that, I got the show, loud and clear."

"What you are talking about...this precarious shift between desperation and "you got it" is the distance of that line, and that is what this show is all about," continues Hamlisch, "You are this far away from either one. You are this far away, and you are walking a tightrope…and the people in the audience know it, and the people on stage know it."

But A Chorus Line isn't just about the race to fame. And if it is a predecessor of the modern reality show, it is a much different reality show than what we're accustomed to.

Charlotte D'Ambrose plays "Cassie" an aging leading lady, trying hard to hang on in the Chorus and begging not to be a star.

"It's wanting to be accepted and it's also wanting to be with a group and with a line and join in and be part of something bigger," D'Ambrose shares, "The group coming together to be part of something bigger."

But is the show dated? While testimonials about homosexuality and flagrant use of "T&A" might have seemed shocking thirty years ago, do these 1970s themes -- not to mention the questionable décor -- play to the modern audience?

Marvin Hamlisch says yes.

"It's almost as if the time has changed…and everything has stayed the same," he says, "Except now you are noticing things that you didn't notice thirty years ago."

He also thinks today's audience can look beyond any shock value to see something more substantive.

"You are noticing how each of the people is fending for each other. You are noticing how people are saying, 'I just got here so give me a chance,'" Hamlisch says, "You notice how people are saying I just want to do my very best. It's not all about one issue or another issue, and I think that's really important."

Bob Avian, A Chorus Line's director attributes the show's popularity and 2006 rebirth to its universal appeal, and cites Michael Bennett's quote in the program: "This show is dedicated to everyone who has ever danced in a chorus or marched in step anywhere."

"It represents every man," says Avian, "It's every person out there."