Chorus Line, A: Basic Facts

The original A Chorus Line was seen on Broadway for  6,137 performances from  May  21,  1975 to  April  28, 1990.    It won the Pulitzer  Prize  for Drama,  nine  Tony  Awards  and  the  New York Drama  Critics  Circle Award.   


On  September  29,  1983,  A  Chorus Line  surpassed  Grease  with its 3389th  performance  and  became  the  longest  running  show  in Broadway  history.  To this day, A Chorus Line remains the longest-running American  musical  in  Broadway  history.  The original  show was seen  by  more  than  six  million  people  on  Broadway.   


A Chorus Line has reached  countless  more  across  the  world through companies  across America  and  in  England,  Canada,  Australia, New Zealand  and  South  Africa.   Foreign language versions captivated audiences in France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Japan, Argentina, Brazil,  Mexico,  Spain,  Singapore,  the  Netherlands,  Switzerland,  Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Norway,  Puerto  Rico  and  Hong  Kong.   


The  original  A  Chorus Line  grossed  $300  million  in  the  US  alone (approximately  $540 million  adjusting  for  inflation).   


The revival opened  on  October  5th,  2006  at  the  Gerald  Schoenfeld Theater.  It recouped  its  entire  $8  million  investment  after  only  19 weeks.   


As of  May  6,  the  revival  of  A  Chorus Line has  had  245 performances   in  seven  months  and  grossed  $16  million.  The  revival has  broken  the  house  record  for  weekly gross  at  the   Schoenfeld seven times  since  its  opening.    


History of Seminal Musical


The musical was created more than three decades ago, and it was seen on Broadway for 6,137 performances.  Yet A Chorus Line is no ordinary musical; as one of its songs tells us, it’s, like the song says,  “a singular sensation.”  A look back at how it all began may help explain why the show continues to be such an electrifying experience for audiences.


In the beginning, there were the “gypsies,” highly-skilled dancers who travel from musical to musical, chorus to chorus, to be found in the background behind the stars. One cold midnight, on January 18, 1974, of these gypsies gathered in an empty exercise center in Manhattan.


They were joined by Michael Bennett, who was the most acclaimed choreographer of his time. But Bennett was first, last, and always, a gypsy. Since his start as a dancer in Broadway musicals in the 1960s, Bennett had long imagined a show about dancers, a tribute to those who rarely receive the acknowledgement they deserve for their passion and their talent.


For the next 12 hours on that early winter morning in 1974, Bennett and his fellow dancers talked about their lives, revealing an incredible amount of information about their personal histories, their motivation to perform and their dreams. The process of discovery revealed that the faceless chorus was composed of individuals with wit and abundant humanity, each with a special story to tell.


Bennett taped these conversations and collaborated with Nicholas Dante to write A Chorus Line. His long time associate Bob Avian helped choreograph the show. Multiple Grammy and Oscar-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch was brought on to fashion the score, and Ed Kleban contributed the Lyrics. The team began intense workshops with the cast before the script and songs were even finished.


On May 21, 1975, the opening at Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre was greeted with unanimous raves from the critics, and it quickly became obvious that this show about Broadway itself was inevitably headed there. One month later A Chorus Line transferred to the Shubert Theatre, and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and nine Tony Awards.


Eventually there would be L.A. and national companies, an international company that played in London, a bus-and-truck tour, productions in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, and foreign-language versions in France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Singapore, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Puerto Rico and Hong Kong.  By it’s closing on April 28, 1990, A Chorus Line had become the longest running Broadway show of its time, grossed over $300 million in the US alone, spawned a Hollywood film starring Michael Douglas, and helped drive a renewed interest in theater. 


After a 16-year-hiatus, the curtains opened anew on October 5, 2006. John Breglio, an esteemed entertainment lawyer and long time friend of Michael Bennett’s, was the driving force as producer of the revival. This time around, Bob Avian is in the director’s seat, and original cast member Baayork Lee has provided a new vision for the choreography. The revival has been a smash hit on Broadway, and a nationwide tour is already in the works. Fans of the original are given the chance to revisit old loves, and new generations are introduced to the characters that have touched and inspired millions. The legacy of Michael Bennett and the gypsies, no longer forgotten, lives on