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If “A Chorus Line” follows in the line of Cliff Fannin Baker’s recent directorial efforts at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Rep fans are in for a real treat.
Baker, the founder of the Rep and its artistic director for its first 24 years, returns to put an exclamation point on the Rep’s 30th season as he directs the famed high-stepping Broadway musical. “A Chorus Line” officially opens Friday, June 2, but Baker and the Rep will offer a sneak preview, complete with discussion by the director, on Thursday, June 1, beginning at 7:15 p.m.
Showtimes this weekend are 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The show resumes Wednesday, June 7, at 7 p.m. Along with regular Sunday matinees through the run, ending July 2, Saturday matinees are scheduled June 10, June 17 and June 24. Evening performances Thursday though Saturday are at 8 p.m.
“A Chorus Line” focuses on the “young gypsies” who serve as the dancers behind the big Broadway shows as they go from one tryout to the next trying to make the cut, while a show’s director tries to mentor a girl into a starring role. The Rep’s version will mark one of the last regional stagings before “A Chorus Line” is revived on Broadway this fall.
Marvin Hamlisch wrote the original music to lyrics by Edward Kleban. The musical, which opened in 1975, was conceived and choreographed by Michael Bennett and written by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante. It won nine Tony Awards and garnered the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
The Rep’s cast numbers 25, including Arkansas natives Joi Chen (as Connie), Case Dillard (as Bobby), Dennis Glasscock (as Larry) and Allison Stodola (as Kristine).
Bob Gaynor and Kathryn Mowat Murphy star in the lead roles. Gaynor, who plays Zach, the show’s dance director, is a veteran of such Broadway shows as “Aida,” “Taboo” and “Sweet Charity.” Murphy, who will be playing the role of Cassie, Zach’s protege, for the fourth time, appeared on Broadway and toured nationally in “Fosse” and “Chicago.” She’s also played Cassie in three “A Chorus Line” productions directed by original cast members.
Baker has directed more than 100 Rep productions, and since leaving the Rep he’s returned to direct such smash hits as “Anything Goes” and “Gypsy.”
Tickets are $50 for orchestra seating and $35 for mezzanine (some half-price tickets are available for Thursday’s sneak preview). Call 378-0405 or 866-684-3737, or visit the Rep’s website at www.therep.org. Friday night’s performance will be followed by a reception with the cast in the lobby. Wednesday’s performance will be signed for the hearing impaired.