A CHORUS LINE
WHEN: January 7 through January 15 (performance details below)
WHERE: Vanguard Theater, 180 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair
TICKETS: $15-$45 (includes all fees)
Online at vanguardtheatercompany.org.
Individual tickets, memberships, and subscriptions are available.
Due to the content, parental discretion is advised.
Nearly 50 years ago (yes 50!) A Chorus Line was an unprecedented hit receiving nine Tony Awards, the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. It also has the honor of being one of the longest-running musicals in Broadway history.
Why put up A Chorus Line? As an actress herself, Founding Artistic Director of Vanguard and Director of A Chorus Line, Janeece Freeman Clark, says: “A Chorus Line gave voice to performers of color during a time when most roles were designed for white actors (with the exception of race specific shows). The original Broadway cast of A Chorus Line featured four actors of color. Two of them in particular, Paul San Marco and Diana Morales, were written with a multi-dimensionality that elevated the standard of racial minority depictions in musical theater—which was a major step.
Our production provides a fresh look at A Chorus Line’s narrative—not by changing the staging (A Chorus Line is almost always presented with the original, iconic, Broadway choreography), but by the beautiful makeup of this cast. The production features more than a mere four actors of color. This creates an atmosphere where these actors are no longer novelties. They are just like everyone else on the stage—a group of human beings with individual histories, united by the same plight of putting themselves on the line.
A Chorus Line to Ronald Dennis, the Broadway performer who indelibly played dancer Richie Walters in the original 1975 cast of A Chorus Line, introducing one of the show’s musical highlights: “Gimme the Ball.” Many don’t know this, but Dennis not only brilliantly performed this song in the show, but also had a big hand in writing it:
“About 2 weeks before we were to open at the Neuman, M.B. (Michael Bennet) comes to me and says that he needs to see me in the rehearsal room at lunchtime. I’m thinking, ‘Oh sh*t’ now what?’ I get there and Michael…. proceeds to sing (the words) “Gimme the Ball.”
He then says, “Here, go home and make something out of this!” Gobsmacked, but not one to back down on an order or a challenge, I got home, retreated to my bedroom and channeled the muse of ‘Aretha Franklin’ as my inspiration. I never did find out why Marvin Hamlisch didn’t write a song for me. And sadly, I signed away all royalty rights in our original contract, being naive and not knowing anything about asking for writing credit or payment. SIGH Hindsight! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!"
Dennis passed away on Dec. 17, 2022, at the age of 78. Prior to his signature role as Richie in A Chorus Line, he appeared on Broadway in Hello, Dolly! starring Pearl Bailey, and Micki Grant’s Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope. He was also among the casts of the touring productions of Pippin, and Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ and La Cage aux Follies. A longtime advocate for AIDS awareness and charities, Dennis served on the Broadway Cares Advisory Council, and was the Senior Advisor for the Black Men’s HIV Medication Adherence Board at APLA/Project Rise.
Saturday, January 7th, 8pm
Sunday, January 8th, 2pm & 7pm
Thursday, January 12th, 8pm
Friday, January 13th, 8pm
Saturday, January 14th, 3pm & 8pm
Sunday, January 15th ,2pm & 7pm
ABOUT DREAM VTC
DREAM VTC is a by audition, rigorous education and performance program created to teach theater skills to middle and high school students, while focusing on significant social issues. The program takes students through a 3-month experience that mirrors a professional practice, and challenges them to reciprocate what they have learned on tours, bringing live theater to people without traditional access. DREAM VTC has been recognized with funding from the NJ State Council on the Arts.
ABOUT VANGUARD THEATER:
Founded in 2015, Vanguard Theater Company is a unique 501(c)(3) committed to changing social and cultural narratives through theater dedicated to DREAM: Diversity, Reciprocity, Education, Activism & Mentorship. Having just completed its first full year in its new home in Montclair, Vanguard Theater has quickly become a destination for great professional theater, inspired community collaborations, excellent youth programming, and more. Manifest star Geraldine Leer recently named Vanguard Theater as one of her favorite artistic destinations in Montclair, and, to quote Jay Lustig, reviewer for NJ Stages, “This is the third Vanguard Theater show I’ve reviewed since it opened its new Montclair space last year, and I’ve been impressed by them all.” Vanguard looks forward to continuing its reputation for excellent theater and impactful community dialogue as it begins its second full season in Montclair, NJ.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and www.vanguardtheatercompany.org or look for us on social media @vtcnj and #dreamVTC.