The musical, A Chorus Line, closes out Lyric Opera Theatre 02/03 season
WHAT: The Herberger College of Fine Arts Lyric Opera Theatre in the School of Music presents A Chorus Line, the riveting musical by Michael Bennett.
Billed as the “one, singular sensation,” this musical faces head on the hopes, fears, frustrations and insecurities of a group of dancers. The stage itself serves as the set for Michael Bennett’s riveting musical featuring a Broadway chorus audition where a director demands the dancers publicly share their most intimate memories and inner demons. This Lyric Opera Theatre production is true to the original – “workshopping” the musical. The cast, selected from auditions held in October, took part in a 12-week rehearsal workshop in the School of Music’s Broadway Scenes class taught by senior lecturer Joann Yeoman.
The premise for A Chorus Line is simple: dancers audition for parts in the chorus of a Broadway show. As they go through the process, they open up to the director and to each other. At the end of the show, eight successful dancers are left standing on the stage. The ending brings back all the dancers in a glitzy song and dance number performed by the entire cast.
WHEN: April 25, 26, 30, May 2, 3, 4, 7:30 p.m.; April 27, 2 p.m.
WHERE: Evelyn Smith Music Theatre, Music Building, 40 E. Gammage Parkway, Tempe
TICKETS: $14 adults, $12 seniors, faculty and staff; $5 students.
INFORMATION, TICKETS: 480-965-6447
JoAnn Yeoman, who has taught in the Herberger College departments of dance and of theatre, in addition to the School of Music, brings to Lyric Opera Theatre practical experience and extensive knowledge from her career as a performer and choreographer in theatre in New York City and across the country.
She has worked with many of the greats, including A Chorus Line’s Michael Bennett. Her stint with Bennett especially came in handy during her spring semester workshop class for Lyric Opera Theatre’s production of A Chorus Line. Yeoman and the other members of the Lyric Opera Theatre faculty and staff are staging the smash Broadway musical just as the original was – beginning with an intensive 12 weeks-long workshop for the student performers.
Not wanting to rely on only her stage background for the workshop, Yeoman arranged for her students to have a master class with Tony Award winning Donna McKechnie. The dancing and singing star, was on campus in early April to work with the students. McKechnie is one of the original cast members of the Broadway debut of A Chorus Line in 1975. Yeoman also had Pamela Blair, who played the original Val in the 1975 production, visit a workshop session.
“A Chorus Line is a big production, showcasing 20 major roles and an ensemble of 30 or more,” says Yeoman. “There is a variety of strengths in the cast and it’s my job to bring them together and make them look good.” She points out that the production has an interdisciplinary cast – in addition to students in the Music Theatre Performance program, there are students in Biology, Computer Science, Dance, Television Broadcasting, Theatre and Voice.
“The workshop concept enables the cast members to get to know one another while developing their characters and experiencing a great deal of choreography,” says. “The workshop is really a bonding experience and is in keeping with the origins of A Chorus Line.”