Tag Archives: “A Chorus Line”

COVID-19 Roundup: “A Chorus Line”; Virtual Bingo; More

Everyone loves “A Chorus Line.” Especially anyone who’s ever been in it.

That includes Alisan Porter.

The former Staples High School actor/singer (and “Curly Sue” movie star, and “The Voice” winner) played Bebe in the Broadway revival of that epic show.

It closed in 2008. But 44 cast members leaped — literally — at the chance to dance in a video: “A Chorus Line in Quarantine.” From around the world — in living rooms, kitchens, on decks and apartment rooftops and in their yards and streets — they sent clips of themselves reprising the opening number.

The montage is amazing. And there — at the 1:46 mark — is our own Alisan. Enjoy! (Hat tip: Susan Thomsen)

One of the bright spots of the pandemic is the number of young people who are doing great things to help.

Staples High School student Natalie Bandura launched “Masks That Matter.” She and other teenagers sew washable, reusable homemade cotton masks, then distribute them to Westporters and others in need.

Whether you need a mask or want to help make them, click here. The website is clean and easy to navigate.

Natalie hopes to supply everyone in Westport who needs one with with a mask. Together, she says, “we can help flatten the curve here in town.”

Nearly a month ago, in the early days of the pandemic, a group of Westporters started a virtual bingo night. They play every Thursday, from across the country (all have Westport ties). The winner chooses a non-profit to get the buy-in pot.

So far, they’ve given away nearly $500. Last week’s winner picked the Gillespie Center. For more information, email Stan@witkow.com.

A scene from the Virtual Bingo game.

Meanwhile, Molly Alger notes that the Fine Wine Company in Compo Shopping Center offers this good-looking (and tasty) new mask:

Speaking of signs, Darcy Hicks felt compelled to post this in the house she’s self-isolating in with a lot of guys. Okay, they’re her husband and sons, but still…

And finally … we started today’s Roundup with a former Staples Players star. Here’s a song from another.

P!nk offers an inspiring version of “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman.” Which of course was written by 2003 graduate Justin Paul, and his partner Benj Pasek.



Staples Players’ “Chorus Line” Heads To New York

Staples Players has a 55-year tradition of wowing audiences with professional-style productions.

But it was Players’ turn to be stunned tonight.

At the end of the final performance of “A Chorus Line” — after thunderous applause for the cast, crew, pit orchestra, choreographers and directors — Marvin Hamlisch’s widow came on stage.

She saw the matinee earlier today, then stayed for the 2nd show. She praised everyone profusely, then mentioned that her late husband — who wrote the music to the show — will be honored on his birthday this June with a gala performance in New York.

Dozens of Broadway stars will be there — and now, thanks to her invitation, so will Staples Players.

You can’t ask for a more dramatic finish — or a more well-deserved encore — than that.

The "Chorus Line" cast. (Photo by Kerry Long)

The “Chorus Line” cast. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Baayork Lee Helps Staples Players At The Ballet

Staples Players strives to offer audiences Broadway-quality productions.

To do that, director David Roth gives his actors Broadway-quality experiences.

Two years ago, before “Curtains,” Tony Award-winner Rupert Holmes told the cast how he wrote the play.

Last year, for “Into the Woods,” Tony winner Joanna Gleason described her role in that Stephen Sondheim show.

Last week — with rehearsals for “A Chorus Line” kicking into high gear — Roth welcomed Baayork Lee to the stage.

Talk about one singular sensation!

Baayork Lee, hard at work with the Staples Players. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Baayork Lee, hard at work with the Staples Players. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Lee first danced professionally at age 5, in Yul Brynner’s “The King and I.” She gained fame in “Flower Drum Song,” “Golden Boy” and “Promises, Promises.”

But “A Chorus Line” was — and still is — her true love. She was assistant choreographer to Michael Bennett; he based the character of Connie Wong on her, after she participated in the development workshops.

Lee danced in the original Broadway company — where she met Bradley Jones, the 1975 Staples grad who co-choreographs Players’ current spectacular production. She also toured with it, in Europe and South America.

In the high school auditorium last week, she sat with the cast and crew to talk about the show that remains so dear to her heart.

Baayork Lee (center), surrounded by appreciative and enthralled Staples Players. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Baayork Lee (center), surrounded by appreciative and enthralled Staples Players. Bradley Jones kneels in front, next to her. (Photo by Kerry Long)

“I care deeply about passing along the ‘Chorus Line’ tradition, with integrity, passion and care,” she told 100 or so high school students

“You are a very special group. This show changed the face of theater. Now you too will be able to pass on Michael Bennett’s legacy, to a new generation that watches you perform.”

Lee told the teenagers about the New York of the 1970s — the cradle from which “Chorus Line” grew. She described the 2 taping sessions Bennett held, gathering tales of 52 prospective dancers.

She talked about disco dancing every night, then coming back with new steps to incorporate into the show.

It took a lot of hard work — but “A Chorus Line” made history.

If your browser does not link directly to the YouTube video below, click here.)

Before dancing with the cast on stage — and giving them Broadway-and-Bennett-style critiques — Lee told the enthralled teenagers:

“When you’re a pioneer, you don’t know you’re blazing a trail. At the time, we did not realize the difference we made in theater.

“Appreciate everything you do,” Lee concluded. “Appreciate the moment you are in. You never know when it will end.”

For Staples Players, the moment begins March 15. It ends March 23.

But thanks to people like Baayork Lee and Bradley Jones, they’ll carry “A Chorus Line” with them the rest of their lives.

Their audiences will, too.

(“A Chorus Line” shows are Friday and Saturday, March 15, 16, 22 and 23, at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 17 at 3 p.m., and Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. Click here for tickets and more information.)

Bradley Jones Remembers Marvin Hamlisch

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.

Three years ago, Bradley Jones (center) reprised his “Chorus Line” role at Staples Players’ 50th anniversary celebration. This spring, they’ll stage the entire show. (Photo/Kerry Long)