7 Things You Never Knew About A Chorus Line On Its 40th Anniversary

The Broadway hit plays July 29, 30, and 31 at the Hollywood Bowl

Broadway behemoth A Chorus Line turns 40 this week, and what better way to celebrate than with three performances of the iconic show at the Hollywood Bowl? Once the longest running show in Broadway history, ACL is a meta meditation on the Great White Way’s casting process. Actor Baayork Lee was there for the beginning of the show’s success—not only did she originate the role of Connie, she also served as director/choreographer Michael Bennett’s assistant. Now, Lee is directing this weekend’s three-night production (July 29, 30, and 31). Here she shares some little-known stories from the original run and her plans for the upcoming performances.

Fan-demonium in the pre-Internet era was just as aggressive as it is today
“I don’t know if I enjoyed all the attention—we had to live up to what people expected us to be in every single performance, every single company. I was shopping at Bloomingdale’s, and people were running through the aisles shouting, ‘Connie, Connie!’”

Michael Bennett was inspired by West Side Story director Jerome Robbins and used some of his tricks with the cast of ACL
“Michael was doing certain things in order to get the actors to react in the way he wanted them to. Jerome Robbins did the same thing with West Side Story, and he was Michael’s mentor. [Robbins] kept the Jets and the Sharks away from each other so they’d really be enemies on the stage. I think Michael almost did the same thing with us to keep the feeling of competing for the job.”

Bennett also manipulated the cast’s response to an injury depicted in the show
“The thing I felt was cruel was when Michael had pretended he had injured himself in order to get the accident scene. Suddenly he fell and grabbed his leg. People were running around, ‘Somebody get a doctor!’ Then he got up and said, ‘I want you to remember every single thing you did, because we are going to do that in the accident scene.’ He had a party for us that evening, but I didn’t go because I was so upset with him.”

The stage door experience with ACL was very different than it is today
“We didn’t have the Internet and all of that. We had people writing us letters. We had people waiting outside on our birthdays bringing us presents. It was so weird, but they weren’t stalkers. They were really fans. We had somebody who came to see the show 50 times because they wanted to watch one character all the way through. You had to be on point every performance. The tickets were $8 or $17.50. They can’t see Hamilton like that because it’s $500.”

The show is all about love
“It’s all about love, love, love. Didn’t [Hamilton creator] Lin-Manuel Miranda say that? We did it for love. People understand why we did it because they can see it. It’s not just about dancers. It’s about human beings, and everyone can relate to these stories.”

Though the Hollywood Bowl is massive, the show will still be the same
“I can spread it out just a little bit, but not a lot. We will be doing our show. [Audiences] will be seeing A Chorus Line as done on Broadway. This will be the original production. The orchestra has to be there visually. We aren’t used to that. [Originally] the orchestra was hidden.”

Mario Lopez, who plays Zach (and did so on Broadway), won’t be wearing a sweater, even though that’s how the part has historically been performed
“Bob Avian [director of the revival and co-choreographer of the original production] wanted to see more of [Mario’s] body because he’s very built. He also had a fitness book out, and we wanted to see his arms and all that.”