`Chorus Line’ Magic

Received a fantastic e-mail from Steve Kluger, a novelist/playwright I’ve been corresponding with since I reviewed his play After Dark at the New
Conservatory Theatre Center. Kluger’s a wonderful writer — check out his novels Almost Like Being In Love and Last Days of Summer — and he brought his 9-year-old niece up to San Francisco recently to see the Broadway-bound revival of A Chorus Line at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco.

Here’s what Kluger wrote about the experience:

Having seen various productions of varying quality in the years since the originals took over Broadway, I was hoping for a workmanlike production that would at least stand on its own and honor the legend. What I clearly wasn’t prepared for was having the top of my head taken off just like it was in 1975, when the same 19 characters left me equally incapable of speech once the curtain had come down.

Is this production as good as I think it is? … This is the first time in my musical theatre life that a revival actually defied the axiom “You can’t go home again.” It also confirmed that this f** show’s got a kind of magic that’s never going to be duplicated again.

Hard to disagree with that.

Kluger also mentioned that his new book, tentatively titled The Year We Grew Up, will be released next year by Penguin in hardcover.

Singing singular sensations

Had two amazing experiences in one on Monday.

1) They actually let me into Skywalker Ranch in Marin, George Lucas’ incredible special effects compound where the biggest special effect of all is Mother Nature in all her Northern California glory.

2) They actually let me into the recording studio (Lucas’ scoring stage to be more precise) to observe the recording of three songs for the new cast recording for the revival of A Chorus Line, currently having its out-of-town tryout in San Francisco.

For a show tune enthusiast such as myself (if I ever slip on this blog and use the phrase “show queen” please know I use it with love), it was H E A V E N.

Just standing next to the 30-strong cast while they belted “Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love,” “What I Did for Love” and “One” was incredible and the closest I’ll ever get to feeling what it’s like on a full-throttle Broadway stage.

But watching the process of musical director, producer, orchestrator, composer doing their thing to make a classic recording for the ages in a SINGLE DAY was extraordinary.

The cast members seemed remarkably relaxed and were only told by producer David Caddick once to keep their “go-to-it energy” up.

Charlotte d’Amboise, who plays Cassie, is probably the biggest star in the bunch (along with Tony-winner Michael Barresse, who plays Zach), and her husband, Broadway star Terrence Mann (seen here in “Lennon” but more famous for his Javert in Les Miz and Beast in Beauty & the…) was lurking about lending moral support.

Between takes the cast members joked around, stretched, lounged on the floor, chomped lozenges and sipped from water bottles.

Jessica Lee Goldyn, who plays Val and sings the big number “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” about, ahem, “orchestra and balcony,” clamped her headphones around her bosom and said: “Sing, boobies!”

The Chorus Line cast is writing up a storm on the show’s official blog. If you haven’t seen it, you must. A Chorus Line Blog

The crew from Broadway.com has made a terrific video of the recording session. Check it out