the arts

'A Chorus Line'

Long Center launches its new musical series with a singular sensation

By Robert Faires, Fri., July 19, 2013

'A Chorus Line'

More musicals. That was the number one demand of patrons in a programming survey conducted by the Long Center last year, and this week the performing arts center delivers the first production in a four-show musical series for 2013-14. A Chorus Line, that singular sensation about Broadway's anonymous hoofers and what they did for love, opens a five-day stay Wednesday, July 24, followed by Godspell (Nov. 26-27), Man of La Mancha (Jan. 14-15), and Hair (March 4-5).

This Broadway series is a first for the Long Center, which had previously booked touring shows individually or through an arrangement with the Broadway Across America series at Texas Performing Arts. When that arrangement ended, but the survey still showed strong demand for musicals, the Long Center decided to put together its own series. Managing Director Paul Beutel found national tours of Godspell and Hair based on the recent Broadway revivals, plus an independent revival of La Mancha, but he also tapped a musical source closer to home: Houston's long-running Theatre Under the Stars, which Beutel has been acquainted with since his youthful days doing musicals, but had more recently developed a relationship with during his three-year stint as director of Miller Outdoor Theatre, where TUTS performs. "It crossed my mind that since they produce three shows of their own each year, it might be possible for us to bring one of those to Austin," Beutel says. "They were intrigued by the idea and said, 'What about A Chorus Line? We're producing that for our show in the park this summer.' I thought, 'That would be a great show to start with,' and if any show is eminently transportable, it's A Chorus Line." The show finishes its weeklong run in Houston on Sunday, then kicks its way to Austin.

The seven-show run will be the Broadway series' longest, but that's not just about scheduling around the Long Center's founding resident companies – the ballet, opera, and symphony – in the fall and spring. "I really didn't want to launch with full-week runs of everything," Beutel says. "We thought we'd test the waters [for a longer run] with A Chorus Line, but we were looking for other shows we could present for just two or three performances like we had done with Spamalot and with Young Frankenstein the year before."

So what about the fact that all four musicals in this new series opened on Broadway between 1965 and 1975? Is this a deliberate counterculture flashback at work? Pure coincidence, Beutel insists. "No one said, 'Hey, let's do a Seventies Broadway series.' But in looking at the shows that were available to us and what made sense, it just worked out that way."

A Chorus Line runs July 24-28, Wednesday-Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2 & 8pm; Sunday, 2 & 7pm; in Dell Hall at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside. For more information, call 512/474-5664 or visit www.thelongcenter.org.

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