The passing of composer Marvin Hamlish has left me feeling reflective about one of the great musicals of the 1970s: A Chorus Line. The smash hit broke box-office records, prompting a barrage of national tours. From 1975 until 1990 A Chorus Line thrived on Broadway, and it did it without elaborate hydraulic sets, big name stars, or singing cats. Audiences responded so strongly to A Chorus Line because the characters were very real; their monologues were funny, gritty and heartfelt, a stark contrast to goofy, stylized musicals of yesteryear. The lessons one learns from A Chorus Line are sometimes painful, sometimes sobering, but always worth considering, especially if you are pursuing a dream.
Lesson #1: Individuality Is Not Always As Profitable As Conformity
Throughout A Chorus Line, Zach (the director/choreographer) is looking for four males, four females to be in the chorus of a new musical. He does not want dancers who will stand out. He wants performers who will blend into the background. Thus, seasoned professionals such as Cassie (who had once been a leading lady) are not as employable. For the majority of performers seeking a steady paycheck, learning the art of conformity is often a key ingredient to success.