BackStage With

FULL EPISODE

A Chorus Line

Marvin Hamlisch's life in music is notable for its great versatility as well as substance. As a composer, Hamlisch has won virtually every major award that exists: three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globe awards; and the Pulitzer Prize for his groundbreaking show, A Chorus Line.

AIRED: October 27, 2010 | 0:26:46
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>> FUNDING FOR "BACKSTAGE WITH A CHORUS LINE" IS PROVIDED BY

THE GEORGE W. CODRINGTON CHARITABLE FOUNDATION.

AND BY CUYAHOGA RESIDENTS THROUGH CUYAHOGA ARTS AND

CULTURE.

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH IS SUPPORTED BY A GRANT FROM

DOMINION.

♪ >> SPEAKING OF A GOOD

COLLABORATION, THE COLLABORATION ON "CHORUS LINE" COULD NOT HAVE

BEEN BETTER.

MOST SONGS, 95% OF SONGS, ARE LOVE SONGS.

I LOVE YOU, I DO NOT LOVE YOU, I USED TO LOVE YOU.

GEE, I WISH I COULD LOVE YOU.

[LAUGHTER] >> ♪ ONE SINGULAR SENSATION

EVERY LITTLE STEP HE TAKES ♪ >> IT NEEDED A TREMENDOUS

ATTRACTION ON BROADWAY AND "A CHORUS LINE" CAME ALONG AND SORT

OF MADE IT ALL HAPPEN.

BROADWAY WAS COOKING AGAIN, IT WAS A MEGAHIT.

>> ♪ ONE SMILE AND SUDDENLY NOBODY ELSE WILL DO ♪

>> LONG BEFORE A HIT RUNWAY MUSICAL MAKES IT HERE, SOMEONE

SOMEWHERE HAS TO COME UP WITH THE GREAT IDEA.

WITH "A CHORUS LINE," THE IDEA WAS BORN JANUARY 1974 IN NEW

YORK CITY WHEN A GROUP OF 20 OR SO DANCERS GATHERED TO TALK

ABOUT THEIR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIVES.

HELLO, I AM SCOTT SIMON, AND WELCOME TO "BACKSTAGE WITH A

CHORUS LINE."

IN THIS PROGRAM, WE PEEK BEHIND THE CURTAIN TO HEAR SOME

INCREDIBLE STORIES ABOUT THE SEED OF AN IDEA AND HOW IT

BECAME ONE OF THE MOST CELEBRATED BROADWAY MUSICALS OF

ALL TIME.

>> 5, 6, 7, 8 -- ♪

>> WHEN A BROADWAY MUSICAL RUNS FOR 6137 STRAIGHT PERFORMANCES,

SOMETHING HAS STRUCK A NERVE.

>> ♪ EXTOLLING LOADED WITH CHARISMA

IT IS MY JAUNTILY SAUNTERING ♪ >> "A CHORUS LINE" REDEFINED

WHAT A BROADWAY MUSICAL COULD BE.

>> ♪ MAKING THE GRADE ♪ >> MICHAEL BENNETT WAS A

32-YEAR-OLD DANCER AND CHOREOGRAPHER FROM BUFFALO WITH

A DREAM TO PUT THE SUPPORTING CAST FRONT AND CENTER ON THE

BROADWAY STAGE.

>> HE SAID I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THIS THING IS.

I DO NOT KNOW IF IT IS A MOVIE, IF IT IS A PLAY, IF IT IS A

MUSICAL, IF IT IS A BOOK.

I JUST KNOW IT IS CALLED "A CHORUS LINE."

HE KNEW THE TITLE.

♪ >> SET ON A BARE STAGE AT A

BROADWAY AUDITION, "A CHORUS LINE" TOLD STORIES OF REAL

DANCERS IN THEIR OWN WORDS.

>> ♪ I STUFF HER SHOES WITH EXTRA SOCKS

RUN SEVEN BLOCKS ♪ >> AND BY DOING SO, IT REFLECTED

THE DREAMS AND DESPAIR OF EVERY DANCER WHO EVER STEPPED IN FRONT

OF THE FOOTLIGHTS.

>> WE DID NOT KNOW WHAT WE HAD IN THE BEGINNING.

WE KNEW WE WANTED TO DO THE SHOW ABOUT DANCERS AND WHAT IT IS

LIKE.

>> ♪ WE DID WHAT WE HAD TO DO

WON'T FORGET, CAN'T REGRET WHAT I DID FOR LOVE

WHAT I DID FOR LOVE ♪ >> ♪ WHAT I DID FOR LOVE ♪

>> WHEN MARVIN HAMLISCH GOT THE CALL TO WRITE THE MUSIC FOR "A

CHORUS LINE," HE HAD ALREADY WON A HANDFUL OF OSCARS.

YET HE HAD NEVER WRITTEN ONE NOTE FOR A BROADWAY MUSICAL.

TALKING TO MARVIN HAMLISCH, YOU GET A SENSE THAT HE WAS UP TO

THE CHALLENGE OF WRITING MUSIC FOR A SHOW THAT WAS ESSENTIALLY

ABOUT DANCING.

[APPLAUSE] >> THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

HOME, SWEET HOME.

>> YOU WERE SEVEN YEARS OLD WHEN YOU GOT TO JUILLIARD.

>> YES.

>> HOW DID YOU MEET THE PIANO?

>> IT IS INTERESTING.

ABOUT THE PIANO NBN MUSIC.

-- THE PIANO AND ME AND MUSIC.

THE ANSWER PEOPLE WANT IS WHEN I WAS FOUR YEARS OLD I HEARD

MOZART.

THEY WERE LOOKING FOR ONE OF THOSE ANSWERS.

>> I WAS HOPING.

>> MY FATHER WAS A MUSICIAN FROM VIENNA.

WE HAD A PIANO IN THE HOUSE.

I WAS NOT EXACTLY ZOOMING ALONG PIANO, I WAS A REGULAR KID DOING

WHAT I DO.

MY SISTER WAS TAKING PIANO LESSONS..

WHEN THE TEACHER LEFT, I WOULD GET UP ON THE PIANO AND START

MIMICKING WHAT THE TEACHER WAS TEACHING MY SISTER.

SO NOW WE HAD A RADIO THAT I USED TO LISTEN TO THE ROCK 'N

ROLL SONGS.

ROCK 'N ROLL, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU ARE FIVE OR SIX YEARS OLD --

>> ♪ THE NIGHT, SWEETHEART ♪ THESE ARE THE IMPORTANT THINGS

IN LIFE.

[LAUGHTER] I WAS LISTENING TO ALL THAT

STUFF.

THERE WAS A PROGRAM ON TELEVISION I USED TO SEE ALL THE

TIME AT NIGHT CALLED "THE HIT PARADE."

THEY USED TO PLAY THE TOP FIVE RECORDS OF THE WEEK.

>> THIS IS SNOOKY LANSON.

>> WE NAMED THE PARAKEET SNOOKY.

SO, WHAT HAPPENED WAS, MY FATHER IS ASKING EVERYBODY, MY SON SHOW

S THIS TALENT, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

JULIA, JULIA, JUILLIARD.

JUILLIARD IS A PLACE FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE BIT OF AN AND BOUGHT --

PEOPLE WHO LOVE BEETHOVEN AND BACH.

MY FATHER TAKES ME TO JUILLIARD, AND I'M GOING TO TAKE A TEST TO

GET INTO JUILLIARD.

I AM WALKING INTO THE ROOM AND THESE PEOPLE IN THE ROOM ARE

PEOPLE WHO ARE THE REAL PEDAGOGUES OF MUSIC.

THESE ARE THE REAL FOLKS.

>> YOU ARE SEVEN.

>> I WAS SIX AND A HALF.

[LAUGHTER] I DID NOT WANT TO HAVE A PEABODY

PERSON SAY SOMETHING WRONG.

WHAT HAPPENED, I WALKED INTO THE THING AND THEY SAY WHAT ARE YOU

GOING TO PLAY?

THEY ARE EXPECTING -- I SAID, I AM GOING TO PLAY, THE

NUMBER ONE SONG WAS "I'M YOURS."

♪ I'M YOURS I'M YOURS ♪

THAT WAS THE NUMBER ONE SONG.

I PLAYED "I'M YOURS," THEY ARE LOOKING AT ME LIKE WHAT IS THIS

GUY, HE IS CRAZY.

THEY SAID WHAT ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO PLAY?

I SAID NOW I CAN PLAY IT IN ANY KEY.

[PIANO MUSIC] NOT EXACTLY WHAT THEY WERE

HOPING FOR.

THEY KNEW I WAS TALENTED BECAUSE I COULD DO THAT.

SO THEY GAVE ME A CHANCE.

THEY SAID WE WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

I USED JUILLIARD AS A PLACE TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY THE PIANO.

AND START TO REALLY LOVE THE MUSIC.

IT DID NOT HAPPEN UNTIL I STARTED GETTING INTO IT.

THAT IS WHERE IT ALL BEGAN.

>> HOW DO YOU WRITE A SONG?

>> HOW DO YOU WRITE A SONG?

YOU KNOW, THIS QUESTION HAS BEEN ASKED MANY A TIME BY MANY

PEOPLE.

AND, CONFLICT, -- AND, THANKFULLY, I HAVE COME UP WITH

THE CLOSEST ANSWER TO WHAT HAPPENS.

I DO NOT THINK IT IS POSSIBLE TO TOTALLY CAPTURE WHAT IT IS WHEN

YOU HAVE A GOD -- A MAGICAL MOMENT IN YOUR HEAD.

YOU WERE GIVEN A GIFT.

IT IS HARD TO EXPLAIN BUT I WILL DO THE BEST I CAN OF WHAT I KNOW

ABOUT IT.

THE UNITED NATIONS, I AM SURE YOU HAVE HEARD OF THIS.

A PERSON FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY IS TALKING.

BUT THEY ARE GETTING SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATIONS, THAT

IS WHAT THEY CALL IT.

THE GUY FROM RUSSIA IS TALKING.

THERE IS A PERSON WHO IS GIVING THE TRANSLATION AS HE TALKS INTO

ENGLISH SO THAT THE ENGLISH PERSON CAN HEAR WHAT HE IS

SAYING.

SIMULTANEOUS.

OK.

MUSIC IS ALSO A LANGUAGE.

I AM SITTING AT THE PIANO AND SAYING, I HAVE GOT TO WRITE A

SONG IT HAS GOT TO BE ABOUT THE WAY THINGS USED TO BE FOR

SOMEBODY.

IT HAS GOT TO BE NOSTALGIC.

YOU START TO FEEL IN ENGLISH OR WHATEVER, HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT.

IN YOUR OWN MIND.

THAT FEELING, THOSE THINGS THAT ARE REALLY GRABBING AT YOUR

HEART, SLOWLY BUT SURELY BEGIN TO SIMULTANEOUSLY TRANSLATE INTO

MUSIC.

SO, ALL OF THE SUDDEN, IF YOU WRITE SOMETHING FUNNY, YOU GO

LIKE THIS -- [UP THE PIANO MUSIC]

[SLOW PIANO MUSIC] SLOWLY, THAT BUSINESS OF WHAT

YOU ARE SAYING.

WHAT YOU WOULD BE SAYING TO A PERSON IF YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT

IT.

IT STARTS TO GO INTO YOUR HANDS AND INTO MUSIC.

NOW, THE MORE YOU DO THIS, THE MORE AT HOME YOU ARE AT THE

PIANO.

OBVIOUSLY, THE EASIER IT IS TO DO.

THIS IS NOT MEAN THAT EVERYTHING YOU WRITE TURNED OUT TO BE

GREAT.

IT MEANS EVERYTHING YOU WRITE CAN BE TOTALLY PROFESSIONAL.

CAN BE DONE WELL.

THE DIFFERENCE IS, IS THAT THE ONE THAT TURNS OUT GREAT GETS AN

ADDED LITTLE SOMETHING FROM GOD.

A LITTLE EXTRA COMES DOWN THAT IS NOT, WITH NO REASON OR RHYME,

THAT IS IT.

THAT DAY, THAT MOMENT, THAT SUBJECT GOT TO YOU.

YOU JUST, FOR INSTANCE, WITH "THE WAY WE WERE," THE TITLE GOT

TO ME.

IF YOU HAD TOLD ME TO WRITE A SONG --

>> YOU KNEW THE TITLE.

>> IT WAS THE TITLE OF THE BOOK AND THE FILM YOU GIVE ME THE

TITLE, I START TO WRITE.

IF I DID NOT HAVE THE TITLE, IT WOULD HAVE COME OUT DIFFERENT.

>> IT COMES INTO YOUR MIND AND WORKS YOUR WEIGHT TO YOUR

FINGERS -- AND WORKS ITS WAY TO YOUR FINGERS.

>> AND WRITES MY ACCOUNTS.

[LAUGHTER] A COUPLE OF NOTES, WHAT THE --

>> VERY MOVING.

>> THERE HAS TO BE A REASON TO DO THIS.

>> YOU HAVE WRITTEN WITH SO MANY DIFFERENT PARTNERS OVER THE

YEARS, WHAT IS THAT LIKE?

THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS.

>> COLLABORATION IS VERY IMPORTANT.

WHEN THE COLLABORATION IS WORKING WELL, SPEAKING OF A GOOD

COLLABORATION, THE COLLABORATION ON "CHORUS LINE" COULD NOT HAVE

BEEN BETTER.

WHEN THE COLLABORATION IS WORKING WELL --

>> WITH EDWARD KLEBAN.

>> WRITES.

WHAT IS GREAT ABOUT IT, TWO PEOPLE ARE, BOTH OF YOU ARE

GOING DOWN A ROAD THAT YOU BOTH SEE STRAIGHT AHEAD.

A BAD COLLABORATION IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE IN A CAR

AND YOUR WIFE OR YOUR FRIEND OR SOMEBODY SAYS I THINK WE SHOULD

TAKE A LEFT.

YOU GO NO, NO, WE'RE GOING THIS WAY.

NO, TAKE A LEFT.

SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY, A FIGHT ENSUES.

YOU TAKE A LEFT AND ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU ARE IN MONGOLIA.

WHEN YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK, SOMEHOW OR OTHER, YOU ARE BOTH

SEEING IT THE SAME WAY.

YOU ARE ALL SAYING WE ARE GOING TO GO OVER THERE.

COLLABORATIONS ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO ME.

AND THE RIGHT COLLABORATION.

FOR INSTANCE, ED KLEBAN WAS THE PERFECT PERSON TO HAVE WRITTEN

"A CHORUS LINE."

HE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE PERFECT PERSON TO DO "THEY ARE

PLAYING OUR SONG."

FOR ED, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN WAY TOO TRITE FOR HIM TO EVEN BEGIN

TO GET INVOLVED WITH IT.

>> WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT MAKE A GOOD SONG?

YOUR WORK OR SOMEONE ELSE.

>> FIRST OF ALL -- WELL.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, BESIDES HAVING A WONDERFUL

MELODY, THERE ARE MELODIES THAT JUST, YOU KNOW, I AM DOING A

THING NOW ABOUT JEROME KERN.

HERE IS THE SIMPLEST MELODY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.

WHY DOES IT GO INTO OUR CREVICES?

[PIANO MUSIC] IT CANNOT GET MORE SIMPLE THAN

THAT.

IT GETS TO YOU.

JUST THE SAME AS -- [PIANO MUSIC]

SO THAT MELODY HAS GOT TO BE THERE.

THE OTHER THING THAT HAS GOT TO BE THERE, WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT

MOST SONGS, 95% OF SCIENCE ARE LOVE SONGS.

-- OF SONGS ARE LOVE SONGS.

THEY ARE SAYING SOMETHING VERY MUCH THE SAME.

I LOVE YOU, I USED TO LOVE YOU, I DON'T LOVE YOU, I WISH I COULD

LOVE YOU.

[LAUGHTER] WOULD YOU CHANGE YOUR RELIGION

FOR ME, BABY?

IT IS THE WAY SOMEONE SAYS IT.

TO FIND SOMEONE AS BRILLIANT AS STEPHEN SONDHEIM WHO CAN COME UP

WITH SENDING THE CLOUDS, THEY ARE HERE, THAT IS A NOVEL

APPROACH.

THAT IS A NEW WAY OF SAYING SOMETHING.

I AM TIRED OF LIVING AND SCARED OF DYING.

YOU CANNOT PUT IT ANY BETTER.

WHAT I THINK IT IS, WHEN POETRY IS ELEVATED INTO THE LYRICS OF A

SONG, BUT THEY ARE REALLY POETIC, THAT COMBINATION

MAKES FOR A GREAT SONG.

SOMETIMES IT JUST IS.

FOR INSTANCE, THERE ARE SONGS THAT I LOVE THAT MY WIFE THINKS

ARE IDIOTIC OR SHE DOES NOT LIKE.

THERE ARE OTHER SONGS SHE LOVES THAT I CAN'T STAND.

WE ALL HAVE THE ONES THAT WE REALLY ADORE.

BUT THERE ARE OTHERS THAT SEEMED FOREVER TO BE SONGS THAT WILL

ALWAYS -- IF I AM SITTING AT A CONCERT OR AT EIGHT PIANO --

JUST GOING.

YOU KNOW, EVERYBODY STARTS GOING --

>> SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME.

>> IT JUST IS.

>> ♪ DON'T YOU KNOW OH, BABY

UH HUH OH, BABY ♪

[LAUGHTER] >> ♪ UH HUH ♪

[LAUGHTER] THAT IS MY LATEST BIG ONE.

THAT IS A DUET, BY THE WAY.

[LAUGHTER] >> WHAT COMES FIRST, MUSIC OR

LYRICS?

>> NOTHING.

THE IDEA COMES FIRST.

IT ALL WORKS DIFFERENTLY.

DO YOU KNOW THAT WHEN RICHARD ROGERS WROTE WITH LARRY HART, RI

CHARD WROTE ALL THE MUSIC FIRST.

IT IS A GREAT STORY.

WHEN HE WROTE WITH HAMMERSTEIN, HAMMERSTEIN WROTE ALL THE LYRICS

FIRST.

THE WONDERFUL STORY, HAMMERSTEIN KILLS HIMSELF.

HE WAS ONE OF THE BEST.

HE WORKED SIX WEEKS ON THIS PIECE OF MATERIAL THAT IS CALLED

A SOLILOQUY FROM CAROUSEL.

IT IS A REAL SOUL-SEARCHING SONG.

IT IS MORE THAN A SONG.

IT IS ALMOST LIKE A PURE OPERA TYPE PIECE OF MUSIC.

GLORIOUS.

HE SENT THE LYRICS TO RICHARD ROGERS.

RICHARD ROGERS GETS THE LYRICS AT 10:00 IN THE MORNING WILL

STOP HE CALLS HAMMERSTEIN AT 1:00 AND SAYS I HAVE GOT IT, IT

IS DONE, FINISHED.

AND OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN SAID I DID NOT KNOW IF I WANTED TO EMBRACE

HIM OR KILL HIM.

IT TOOK OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN SIX WEEKS TO COME UP WITH IT.

RICHARD ROGERS HAD IT IN THREE HOURS.

SO, THE RIGHT COLLABORATION IS EVERYTHING.

>> I GOT THE IMPRESSION READING UP THAT WHEN YOU WERE WORKING ON

"A CHORUS LINE," EDWARD KLEBAN WOULD COME UP WITH LYRICS FIRST.

>> YEAH.

>> YOU WERE TAKING BITS AND PIECES OF PEOPLE'S STORIES SO

YOU HAD SENDING THE GO ON.

>> WHAT HAPPENED, ED WOULD DO A LOT OF INTERESTING THINGS.

HE WOULD WANT TO TALK TO EACH OF THE PEOPLE IN THE SHOW.

HE WOULD ACTUALLY TAKE THEM OUT TO DINNER AND TRY TO GET AS MUCH

KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THEM AS POSSIBLE.

AND SO HE WOULD COME WITH ALL OF THIS STUFF TO THE APARTMENT.

AND WE WOULD START WORKING.

AND EITHER HE WOULD HAVE A TITLE READY.

FOR INSTANCE, THE SONG "ONE."

HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH "ONE"?

HE COMES UP WITH THIS TITLE, MICHAEL BENNETT TELLS ME I HAVE

GOT TO HAVE THIS HAPPEN WITH HATS.

GIVE ME AN ACCENT.

SO, BEFORE I AND EVEN AT THAT PIANO, I AM PRACTICALLY TOLD IT

IS GOING TO GO -- BOOM.

YOU ARE ALMOST THERE.

THE REST, I GOT FROM A LITTLE BOY I PAID 20 BUCKS.

[LAUGHTER] SOMETIMES YOU ARE PUT IN THE

DIRECTION.

OTHER TIMES, I LOVED THE TITLE WHEN ED HAD "EVERYTHING IS

BEAUTIFUL IN BALLET."

THAT STARTED ME OFF.

>> ♪ EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL AT THE BALLET ♪

AT THE BALLET AT THE BALLET

YES, EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL AT THE BALLET, HEY ♪

>> ♪ I WAS PRETTY ♪ >> ♪ I WAS HAPPY ♪

>> ♪ I WOULD LOVE TO ♪ >> "AT THE BALLET," WORDS BY

EDWARD KLEBAN, MUSIC BY MARVIN HAMLISCH.

AS "BACKSTAGE WITH A CHORUS LINE " CONTINUES, MARVIN IS JOINED BY

OLD FRIENDS WHO REMINISCE ABOUT THE SUN-TIMES FOR ROHIT, --

ABOUT THE SUN-TIMES FOR ROHIT -- ABOUT THE SOMETIMES HEROIC,

OFTEN HILARIOUS EFFORTS TO GET THE SHOW.

WE ARE JOINED BY IMPORTANT PEOPLE, ONE OF THE

CO-CHOREOGRAPHERS OF "A CHORUS LINE."

A CAREER BROADWAY DANCER AND CHOREOGRAPHER.

AND JOHN, A CLOSE FRIEND OF MICHAEL BENNETT.

INSTRUMENTAL IN THE REVIVAL.

THANK YOU BOTH FOR BEING WITH US.

[APPLAUSE] EXPLAIN HOW THE SHOW WAS PUT

TOGETHER.

FROM THE RECOLLECTIONS OF PEOPLE, THIS WENT THROUGH

WORKSHOP.

PEOPLE WHO WERE DANCERS LIKE YOURSELF, TELLING THEIR PERSONAL

STORIES.

>> IT IS FAMOUS, IT WAS BASED FROM A TAPING WHERE WE PULLED

THE STORIES AND CALLED THEM DOWN TO A STRUCTURED EVENING.

WE BASICALLY HAD A FEW AUDITIONS BUT KNEW MOST OF THE KIDS FROM

THE TAPING.

WE JUST GOT OURSELVES ONTO THE AUSPICES OF THE PUBLIC THEATER

IN THIS UMBRELLA SITUATION WHERE WE COULD WORK ON OUR FEET AND

WRITE THE SHOW AS A PIECE IN PROGRESS, WHICH YOU NEVER GET TO

DO.

WE ALL MADE THE CHOICE TO WORK FOR VERY LITTLE MONEY AND TO

BELIEVE -- >> $100 A WEEK.

>> FOR ABOUT A YEAR.

>> IT SEEMS EVEN SMALL NOW.

>> ALL OF US DID IT.

MARVIN, ALL THE WRITERS, THE CAST MEMBERS, MICHAEL, MYSELF.

WE DID NOT KNOW WHAT WE HAD IN THE BEGINNING.

WE KNOW WE WANTED TO DO THE SHOW ABOUT ANSWERS AND WHAT IT WAS

LIKE.

AND WHERE THERE ROOTS ARE AND WHAT THEY WANT FROM LIFE AND

WHETHER GUESTS ARE -- AND WHAT THEIR GIFTS ARE.

WE FOUND THE SHOW AS WE WENT ALONG.

WE KNEW WHAT THE SHOW WAS GOING TO BE, WE KNEW WHAT THE MIDDLE

WAS GOING TO BE, WE KNEW WHAT THE END OF THE SHOW WAS GOING TO

DO.

WE KNEW THE STRUCTURE.

EVERYTHING ELSE WAS UP FOR GRABS.

>> JOHN, HELP US IN THIS DAY AND AGE APPRECIATE MICHAEL BENNETT.

ALONG WITH BOB, ONE OF THE GREAT DIRECTORS, GREAT NAMES IN DANCE.

HOW POPULAR DANCE HAS BECOME OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS.

A LETTER THAT TRACES BACK TO "A CHORUS LINE" AND MICHAEL

BENNETT.

>> A DIRECTOR IN A MUSICAL IS THE ARCHITECT AND THE ENGINEER,

HE IS THE LOCOMOTIVE.

HE BRINGS IT ALL TOGETHER.

IT IS EVEN DIFFERENT FROM A PLAY.

I PLAY IS WRITTEN BY A PLAYWRIGHT AND A DIRECTOR COMES

IN AND HAS THE WORDS.

HE ENGINEERS THE WAY THE PLATE IS DONE.

IN A MUSICAL, YOU HAD SOMEONE LIKE MICHAEL AND BOBBY, RIGHT BY

HIS SIDE EVERY SECOND.

HE STARTED WITH THIS THING IN HIS HEAD.

I WENT BACK AND LISTENED TO THESE TAPES THAT BOB WAS TALKING

ABOUT.

HE HAD ALL THESE PEOPLE SITTING AROUND, 25 DANCERS, WHO HE SAID

LET'S JUST TALK ABOUT YOUR LIVES .

HE SAID I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THIS THING IS.

I DO NOT KNOW IF IT IS A MOVIE, IF IT IS A PLAY, IF IT IS A

MUSICAL, A BOOK.

I JUST KNOW IT IS CALLED "A CHORUS LINE."

HE KNEW THE TITLE.

HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS.

FROM BACKGROUND -- FROM THAT GROUND UP, ORGANIC GROWTH CAME

STORIES, REAL STORIES.

A NARRATIVE.

THEN IT GETS MARVIN, WHO STARTS HEARING THE EMOTION OF THE THING

AS HE TALKED ABOUT IT.

THE MICHAEL STARTS LAYING ON THAT STRUCTURE.

MICHAEL WAS LIKE VERY MUCH LIKE JERRY ROBBINS.

HE WAS TAUGHT BY JERRY AND BOB AND MICHAEL STARTED IN "WEST

SIDE STORY."

THEY LEARN FROM THE BEST, " FIDDLER ON THE ROOF."

THESE WERE GENIUSES WHO REALLY LAID THE FOUNDATION FOR THE

GREAT AMERICAN MUSICALS.

THEY STARTED FROM SCRATCH.

IN MANY CASES, LIKE "A CHORUS LINE," IT WAS ORIGINAL.

IT WAS NOT BASED ON SOME MOVIE.

IT WAS NOT BASED ON SOME ROCK AND, SOME SONG.

IT WAS ORIGINAL.

FROM THE GROUND UP.

THEY BUILT SKYSCRAPERS OF MUSICALS.

THEY BUILT SKYSCRAPERS.

COLLABORATORS WHO FINISHED EACH OTHER'S SENSES.

-- FINISHED EACH OTHER'S SENTENCES.

THAT WAS THE GENIUS OF MICHAEL AND IT HAS BEEN THE GENIUS OF A

HANDFUL OF GREAT DIRECTOR-CHOREOGRAPHERS WHO MADE

HISTORY.

THE GREAT BROADWAY MOMENTS ARE THOSE MOMENTS.

I HOPE ALL OF YOU CAN SEE IT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN "A CHORUS

LINE."

THERE ARE MOMENTS THAT EVERY TIME BOB AND I SEE IT, I DON'T

KNOW HOW MANY TIMES WE HAVE SEEN THE SHOW.

THE MIRRORS TURN, THE MUSIC HITS A NOTE, THE LIGHTS CHANGE, THE

ACTORS SAY SOMETHING.

IN THAT INSTANT, YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT BEFORE.

THAT IS WHAT A MICHAEL BENNETT COULD BRING ALTOGETHER THAT NO

ONE ELSE COULD DO.

>> "A CHORUS LINE" IS REGARDED AS ONE OF THE GREAT CLASSICS OF

MUSICAL THEATER.

BUT, THERE WERE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO HAD TO BE CONVINCED AT ONE

POINT.

THE MONEY RAN OUT.

>> NO QUESTION ABOUT IT.

JOE STARTED WITH IT BY BELIEVING IN MICHAEL BENNETT.

MICHAEL WAS A YOUNG, VERY TALENTED GUY.

HE WAS NOT SOME VETERAN.

HE WAS NOT WORLD-FAMOUS.

HE HAS DONE A LOT OF WORK AND BEEN SUCCESSFUL.

BUT NOT, HE WAS NOT MICHAEL BENNETT YET.

JOE BELIEVED IN HIM.

JOE, WHO WAS RUNNING A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANIZATION,

REALLY COULD NOT AFFORD TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY.

BUT HE SPENT $100,000 AND DEVELOPED THIS.

THAT TODAY WOULD BE SEVERAL MILLION DOLLARS FOR A NAP FOR

PROFIT -- FOR A NOT-FOR-PROFIT.

BASED ON JUST MICHAEL'S IDEA.

>> JOE WAS ALSO RUNNING THE LINCOLN CENTER THEATER AT THE

SAME TIME.

HE HAD TO KEEP THEM FILLED.

WE WERE DOING OUR WORKSHOPS DOWNTOWN AT THE PUBLIC THEATER.

WE WERE IN THE PERFECT SITUATION AND THE PERFECT THEATER.

WE WENT, THIS IS WHERE WE WANT TO BE.

JOE, IN ORDER TO FILL THE LINCOLN CITY AND -- TO FILL THE

LINCOLN VIVIAN BEAUMONT, I THINK I WILL PUT "CHORUS LINE"

THERE.

MICHAEL BENNETT SAID ABSOLUTELY NOT.

THIS IS A PRESIDIUM SHOW.

>> HE THOUGHT IT WAS TOO BIG?

>> IT IS THE WRONG STAGE.

AT THAT TIME, WE WERE ALMOST GOING TO LEAVE JOE AND TAKE THE

SHOW SOMEWHERE ELSE.

MARVIN, YOU CAN FINISH THE STORY.

>> WE WERE RUNNING OUT OF MONEY.

>> RUNNING OUT OF JOE PAPP'S MONEY.

>> MICHAEL SAID WE SHOULD GO UP TO SHUBERT'S.

JUST PLAY A COUPLE FUNNY STUFF, DO NOT PLAY ANYTHING ESOTERIC.

GO WITH YOUR FUNNY STUFF, WHATEVER.

WELL, THE FUNNIEST SONG IS -- "DNA."

>> THIS WAS THE SUBJECT OF CONVERSATION.

I THINK WHAT THEY WANTED -- AS LONG AS YOU SAY IT.

>> HE SAYS GO WITH THAT SONG.

I COME UP TO THESE OFFICES, WE FIGURE WE'RE GOING TO GET THE

MONEY TO FINISH THE SHOW.

THIS PIANO I PLAYED ON, IT LOOKED LIKE IT HAD NOT BEEN

PLAYED ON FOR 25 YEARS, IT WAS DUSTY.

I WAS VERY -- OPENED IT UP.

RIGHT AT THE VERY TOP, BOOM, POW.

THE WHOLE PIANO WENT -- [LAUGHTER]

IT FELL.

IT WAS BEING HELD UP BY A LEG THAT DID WORK.

NOT YOU SEE -- NOW YOU SEE PEOPLE.

WHAT'S HIS NAME.

BERNIE JACOBS TRYING TO LIFT UP THE PIANO.

[LAUGHTER] I HAVE TO SAY, JOE PAPP, WHAT A

HERO.

HE JUST STUCK WITH IT.

HE DID.

>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR SPENDING ALL OF THIS TIME.

>> THANK YOU.

>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

[APPLAUSE] THE MASTER, MARVIN HAMLISCH.

THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR QUESTIONS.

♪ I LIKE THAT.

>> ♪ SHE WALKS INTO A ROOM AND YOU KNOW FROM HER

MADDENING POSE, EFFORTLESS WHIRL SHE IS THE SPECIAL GIRL ♪

>> ♪ NOBODY ELSE WILL ♪ >> ♪ ALL OF HER QUALITIES

EXTOLLING ♪ ♪ VOTED WITH CHARISMA

JAUNTILY SAUNTERING, AMBLING SHAMBLER

>> ♪ THE GIRL ♪ ♪

>> FUNDING FOR "BACKSTAGE WITH A CHORUS LINE" IS PROVIDED BY THE

GEORGE W. CODRINGTON CHARITABLE FOUNDATION.

AND BY CUYAHOGA COUNTY RESIDENTS THROUGH CUYAHOGA ARTS AND

CULTURE.

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH IS SUPPORTED BY A GRANT FROM

DOMINION.

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Mark Twain Prize
Little Country Theatre: 100 Years at NDSU
Light Falls