The death of popular composer Marvin Hamlisch yesterday resonated with many fans.
Bradley Jones — a 1975 Staples graduate, who played Gregory Gardner in “A Chorus Line” from 1981-89 — recalls:
By the time I got into the Broadway company, we would only see Marvin Hamlisch for brush-up rehearsals when the show was hitting a milestone performance.
I remember him coming in when we became the longest running show (performance 3389), the 5000th performance, and when one of the original cast would come in for a limited run.
Marvin was a stickler for tight, crisp, and elegant articulation of the lyrics of “One,” and he wanted “What I Did For Love” deeply legato and full of our deepest longings. We would happily meet his demands, because we knew these songs were his signature. After having Marvin at a rehearsal, the tempos were also increased and we would dance the opening combinations fast.
It was thrilling to have time with him, and a real antidote to any “long run-itis” the company might have suffered.
Bradley Jones will keep “A Chorus Line” alive — in Westport. This spring, he returns to Staples Players (his former troupe) as choreographer for the beloved show.
And a note — according to his biography he scored “The Swimmer”, which was a subject in last week’s posts about movies fimed in or about Westport. He also was the pianist for Groucho Marx in 1972 for a memorable performance at Carnegie Hall.
I loved Marvin Hamlisch’s music, but I hated “Chorus Line.” I could never understand what the fuss was all about. I saw it a second time, just to make sure, and I hated it even more.
You definitely missed the entire point of A CHORUS LINE. I need not say any more – your critique speaks for itself.
I’m thrilled to learn that the fabulous Staples Players will be putting on Chorus LINE next Spring. Contrary to the previous critique, I loved the show each of the three times I saw it on Broadway (once with Brad on the stage). The “fuss” was about the wonderful music, the fabulous choreography, the terrific costuming, the outstanding voices and the close to home script that told the story of what it’s like to be a struggling actor/actress and trying to make it on the stage, as Brad knows very well himself. I’ll certainly reserve a seat for next Spring’s performance, and as i’ve done in the past at staples, will see it more than once.
Terrific costuming? They all wore sweat pants, or leotards, etc., except for “One Singular Sensation.” That and “What I Did For Love” were the only two decent songs. There was no scenery to speak of. It certainly wasn’t what I would expect from a Broadway musical.
Babette. Another new, unique experience to add to my life’s collection. After 38 years and talking theatre to and with a few thousand people, I finally found someone who hated ” A Chorus Line.” It must have hit a nerve of some kind. Just saying.
Exactly right, Gary. Babette is a quack.
Sad news about Mr. Hamlisch who gave us so much. Regarding Bradley Jones, my sister Mary Ellen and I saw one of his very early performances in “A Chorus Line”. They were friends at Staples and she was so excited to see him on Broadway. Since I had seen the show before, I knew when he was cut during the audition portion, we would not see him on stage again! She was a little heartbroken. He met us after the show and we laughed. He said, “Did you see me do my wrong part right?” He of course went on to a bigger part and we were happy to have been there to see the start of his career. How great that he will get to give back to where he got an even earlier start.
To have the talent of Bradley Jones return to the Staples theater as choreographer for A Chorus Line is a priceless gift to the town as well as its students. I knew Brad (and his budding talent) in elementary school. I’ll be in the audience for A Chorus Line — to cheer for the work of an amazing Westporter whose lifelong career I should have followed way more closely than I did! Thanks for coming home for this show, Bradley — and condolences on the loss of Marvin Hamlisch.
I worked on a production with Mr. Hamlisch. He was a warm, funny and talented man. He enjoyed the people around him and enjoyed his life.
Over the years I have met a few people who believe ACL to be overrated. The show’s deeper themes around the longing for recognition, the human need to be validated and special, and the wish to know one can start over during the life cycle can, for some, be elusive. I would like to extend a warm invitation to Babette to a performance at Staples next year to see if we can change her mind. If not, I respect her divergent opinion. There can be no doubt, however, that Marvin Hamlisch’s contribution to the musical theater is indelible. He (and Burt Bacharach respectively) are largely responsible for the way we hear and appreciate the pop genre of musical theater scoring. And thank you dear Alice, M Hart, and Douglass for your kind comments about my involvement with Staples Players. Working with the students, whom I am so tremendously fond of, keeps me tapped into youth and contemporary culture, and offers me so much more than I offer them. Perhaps in some small way I may raise the bar for them in terms of performance, but they certainly raise it for me in other important and immeasurable ways. Now, let’s put on our sweats or our gold Finale costumes and DANCE! See you in November!
Thanks, Bradley, I appreciate the inviation, but I don’t think I could sit through another Chorus Line. I found it to be excruciatingly boring. I do understand the themes behind it, and as a seasoned Community Theatre performer who has appeared in more productions than I can count, with a son who’s a professional actor, I can empathize with the young people hoping to make it. I just don’t like the show.