Toe the Line: ‘A Chorus Line’ kicks off new season at Gallery Players

Toe the Line: ‘A Chorus Line’ kicks off new season at Gallery Players
Expert opinion: Director Tom Rowan literally wrote the book on “A Chorus Line.”
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Get ready for a singular sensation, with every little step they take!

The Gallery Players will launch its 42nd season with a visit to Broadway, in the show biz musical “A Chorus Line,” opening on Sept. 8. The toe-tapping show, about a group of 17 dancers auditioning for eight roles in a Broadway musical, is beloved by musical theater people —and by this production’s director, who described himself as “a fanatic” for the show.

“It’s about people who are pursuing their dreams for the arts, and the sacrifices and the incredible dedication that takes. That’s why I love it, and so many theater people love it — it expresses what our lives are like,” said Tom Rowan.

The director and author literally wrote the book about the popular musical: “A Chorus Line FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Broadway’s Singular Sensation.” He brings a wealth of knowledge the musical, which debuted Off-Broadway in 1975. Rowan says that despite its age, the musical’s content is still up-to-date.

“It really doesn’t feel dated at all, even 43 years later,” he said. “Dancers still really relate to it — it’s still what they go through at auditions, and it has a classic, timeless music to it. It still feels vital and current.”

Another factor that keeps it fresh is the complicated dance steps, which Rowan describes as “the backbone of the show.”

The story of “A Chorus Line” was built from interviews with Broadway dancers, as they discussed their childhoods, their auditions, and their love of dancing, and the choreography was created alongside those interviews, said Rowan, often before the music was written.

This production has a secret weapon to help those steps come to life: choreographer Eddie Gutierrez, who studied with many of the original cast members and producers. His insight has been invaluable for the actors, said Rowan.

“He brings so much knowledge of the steps, but also the original artistic impulse behind it, so they’re getting a really authentic introduction to what the dance in the show is all about,” said Rowan.

Bringing a big Broadway shows into the intimate confines of the Gallery Players has its challenges, said Rowan — especially for Gutierrez, who must fit 19 people doing a step, kick, kick, leap onto an Off-Off-Broadway stage — but it will heighten the experience for the audience.

“A big part of the appeal of the show is that the audience feels like they’re invisible spectators at a Broadway audition, and in a space like this, where you’re so close to the action, you can really see the actors sweat,” he said. “It’s a much more intense experience. You really feel like you’re in the room in a really personal way.”

“A Chorus Line” at Gallery Players [199 14th St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, (212) 352–3101 www.galleryplayers.com]. Sept. 8–30. Thu–Sat at 8 pm; Sun at 3 pm. $30 ($20 seniors and kids).

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Hat trick: Dancers rehearse the demanding choreography for “A Chorus Line,” opening at Gallery Players in Park Slope on Sept. 8.
Stefano Giovannini

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