A Chorus Line : Differences in Broadway version

Re: Differences in Broadway version

I think I will give up on this. It is obvious we will never agree. Even though I have both seen the show, and read the script.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

OK, I noticed last night while watchiing the E: TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY on Mario Lopez, that during the recent revival of A CHORUS LINE, in which Lopez played Zach, Zach is onstage and this change was clearly made in order to get Lopez to agree to do the role; however, in the orginal Broadway production of A CHORUS LINE, the character of Zach is a voice at the back of the theater and nothing more.

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Re: Differences in Broadway version

Well I have never seen a version where Zach doesn't come down on stage (at least for the paul scenes), and the first one I saw was before the film was made (and clamed to be from the original 1975 score and book).

Re: Differences in Broadway version

THen why is Zach (played by Robert LuPone) clearly in the opening in this performance by the original cast on the 1976 Tony Awards. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KL7Xr0DJ49g ?

I jsut saw the revival tour and Zach is ostage in the opening, comes up to hug Paul after his monologue, is in the finale and teaches some of One. The revival was done to follow TO THE LETTER Michael Bennett's original production. This wasn't a change.

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In the stage version the audience never actually sees Zach. (Somebody said that he was among the whole crowd for the finale. I wouldn't know. Having not seen him up until then, I wouldn't have recognized him coming on stage.)

Zach spends the whole show delivering his lines from the darkness of the back of the theater. He never approaches any light so that you can see him.

There's a reason for this. The whole point of the show (on stage) is to put the audience emotionally in with the dancers; their hopes and dreams, and fears. You need to *fully* identify with the dancers. Therefore Zach is never allowed to become an actual fully fleshed out person. He's just a disembodied voice who is judgeing them and has full power over their hopes (getting the job) and fears (being cut) .... for the short term, anyway.


I have posted more than once on this board that in the play, Zach is just a voice in the bqack of the theater...putting so much focus on him in the movie by putting him front and center and casting a "name" actor in the role took all the focus of the show off where it was supposed to be...on those dancers.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

I'm sorry Isaac5855 but you are wrong. I have seen the show twice and "zach" comes down on stage during the paul scene (which is played much rhe same as in the film), he then stays on stage till about half way through the "one" audition. Then he goes back into the audiance. He also does come on stage in the finale. If you have seen a production which is different then that production has not followd the "vocal score" or "book" as written for the satge version.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

The production I saw tonight at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles had Zach onstage at the very beginning, showing the dancers the routines, which surprised me. He was a voice from the back of the theatre most of the time after that, but appeared at least a few more times, twice for Paul (once after his story, again when he was injured).

Re: Differences in Broadway version

Zach was a great dancer in the L.A. production, he was also at the very end when everyone wore the gold outfits. I saw him through my binoculars from the mezzanine! Friday 6/27 was a great evening to see the show!

Re: Differences in Broadway version

(Somebody said that he was among the whole crowd for the finale. I wouldn't know. Having not seen him up until then, I wouldn't have recognized him coming on stage.)

Yeah, there's a poster who insists that Zach comes onstage during "One" and during the finale, but I don't remember ever seeing Zach in the play.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

I have seen 2 productions. The first a professional tour (based on the original 1975 version), the other an ameture production (based on the 1977 published score). In both versions zach was on stage in exaxtly the places I said in my previous post. in the ameture production they had zach apear with a walking stick (which I thought was a very effective idea, ie became a director because of injury! which does happen). How would I know about the walking stick if he never apeard on stage. Plus before you say that they made it up. The first production I saw stated all over the program that it was the original version as performed in 1975.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

I saw the revival a few months back and Zach does come on stage at least twice, but he does spend a majority of the time as a disembodied voice. To say he never is seen and you've seen the broadway incarnation, you just pay little to no attention.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

Thankyou. I new I wasn't going mad.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

Great post...I agee with every word.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

I just saw the revivial, which is great. It really illustrates the way the film fell short.

Everything was exaggerated in the film. It's as if the director did not trust the audience to understand the story. Everyone has pointed out how Zach has changed from a probing, shaping voice, mostly offstage to an onstage ogre. Also the moving of Cassie's relationship with Zach to the major point plot (to the point of taking over 'What I Did for Love' while the chorus tap-taps ineffectually in the distance - whose bright idea was that?)

Even the Delucas were overdone - Kristine changes from the girl who couldn't 'Sing' to the girl who 'Couldn't say two words without trembling and looking at her husband and seeming like she was going to wet her tights.'

Nobody trusted the material to stand on its own, which is silly, as it had stood and shone for years before the movie. And is still standing.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

Zach also dances in the finale and is much more supportive during the audition. He seems to care about these dances. Michael Douglas played it like an A** hole which I felt was real stupid. There isn't a director a live that would treat people like that. If a director yelled like that, Eequity would be all over the SOB.

The one thing that is wrong about the play and the movie is that the director is very much present on stage during that last callback.

Also, shows are never cast on the same day as the audition (it can take weeks) and notifications are usually done by phone but supposedly the final scene is based on an old show biz tradition ... you face the people you turn away first i.e. Front line, Thank you very much. And of course, those who remain "on the line" get the job ... or end up in rehab (Sorry, I couldn't resist).

Macklin Crew

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Re: Differences in Broadway version

In the stage version the audience never actually sees Zach.


Thank you for confirming this...a few months ago a poster on this board spent several days trying to convince me that you do see Zach int he stage version and would not believe me when I tried to tell him otherwise.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

Actually, if you go to youtube, there are clips from the original 1975 show that show Robert Lupone a few times on stage as Zach. It's obviously a tape transfer and it's in misty B&W, but it is truly amazing to see ACL with its orginal performers and songs before it even moved to the Shubert Theater.

Mr. Lupone was nominated in 1976 for the Best Featured Actor. They don't give out Tony nods for mere disembodied voices, do they?

Re: Differences in Broadway version

If you read the book On the Line which is the collected taped memories of all 19 members of the original cast, there are many pictures from the original production. Zach was indeed on stage several times. They have pictures of him helping Paul after he gets injured, and talking to Larry his assistant. They also talk about how the costumer redesigned his costume at some point in the workshop process to make Zach (Robert LuPone) look older and more authoritative.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

If you've seen Michael Bennett's original staging or any recreation of it then you've definitely seen the character of Zach on the stage.

When the lights first go up, Zach is on stage with the dancers teaching them the opening combination. The entire group is facing the mirror with their backs to the audience. When they turn away from the mirror to face the audience, Zach is featured front & center dancing the combination with the rest of the group. He's quite prominent on the stage in the opening number.

After the opening number Zach mostly disappears from the stage to become the voice in the back of the theater. However he does come back on stage a few more times. He's seen comforting Paul after he's given his monologue. Then he stays to work with the group on “One.” During this segment, Zach takes Cassie to task for “distorting” the combination by popping her head too much. The two of them are on stage when they argue about why she's there. Paul is injured shortly after that & Zach runs to his aid. He's on stage when he asks the dancers what they'd do if they could no longer dance, which leads into “What I Did for Love.” The entire cast, including Zach, appears in the “One” finale.

So if you're seeing the original staging as done by Michael Bennett then you do see Zach on stage several times. As TamaraBrown pointed out, there are very old, washed out clips of the original production on YouTube. Plus you can find the opening number performed by the original Broadway cast for the 1976 Tony Awards. Robert Lupone, the original Zach, is easy to spot on stage as the guy in the sweater who is running the audition.

I highly recommend that anyone who hasn't seen a stage version of ACL seek these clips out. The performances are absolutely electrifying despite the poor video quality, something that I can't say about any number in the film version.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

Thank you so much. I have been trying to convince people of this for so long.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

Glad I could help. It's 30 plus years since I saw it on Broadway, but my memory of the show is still vivid. And those YouTube clips of the original production reinforced what I remembered. They show that Zach was on stage several times in the play and is more than just an disembodied voice in the back of theater.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

For what it is worth, I just saw the 2013 London Revival of ACL. And usually London West End plays are done in a manner that is very consistent with the Broadway version (and often with the blessing and input from the play's original directors, choreographers, etc.). Zach appears in several scenes, just as described earlier.



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Re: Differences in Broadway version

I have been to auditions for many things including national tours and Broadway shows and not all the time does everyone have to be there when you audition. For the most part the singers and principal parts usually audition for the director and casting director sometimes even the writer but this day in age the producer has the last word. This doesn't always happen with auditions for ensemble (chorus). As I was led to believe from reading the plot online Zach is directing/choreographing but it would be very unlikely he would be producing it as well. Usually for a heavy dance show you would be auditioning for the choreographer and their assistant teaching you the combo which is what I assume Larry is in the movie.

As for that whole thing about being hired on acting abilities and not childhood crap the whole point of that was that he was looking to find real people and have those personalities shine through. The point of having them talk was to see what their personalities were like who was funny, who was clever who was witty. Which you obviously get a feel for. It's not just about being able to dance well and act or sing well you gotta have major personality a great smile and being able to take whatever character you are cast making it your own and bringing parts of yourself to that character and bringing it to life. That's not the cases in all shows but that's what I'm guessing Zach was looking for. You wouldn't cast Connie in the glamours chorus member if that's what you were looking for you would cast Val but he wouldn't be able to tell that just from the dancing but getting them to speak loosen up and see what their personalities were like. And if you wanna know the truth there are very few triple threats (people who are 100 perfect at all 3 things singing, acting, dancing) I know a couple of people who were in 42nd street on Broadway and in the national tour and there were people in the ensemble whose didn't even have any body mics on (meaning they didn't even sing they just lip synced) they were cast purely for their dancing abilities and there were also singers who had NO TAPS ON THEIR SHOES who were hired and cast for their appearance and singing abilities. There's a reason that for almost every regional, Broadway, and tour auditions there are 3 separate auditions for Principals,then for singers, and then for dancers.

AS for the whole Paul being gay thing.Being a male in musical theatre I think its very confusing to some men who are dealing with their sexuality. At one extreme all the men are gay so you would think that it would be easy to just be full on gay but on another extreme the women out number the men and are always fighting each other for the available straight men. I think with Paul the conflict came from the lack of support and understanding from his parents he is Hispanic and i would think he probably grew up in a very religious home. just because he's gay doesn't mean that he wants to be. I know men who work on Broadway have slept with men, have relationships with men, but REFUSE to be labeled as gay and wanna end up with women and these are men in their 30s.

I think a lot of the issues and characters and facts in the situations are kinda hard to understand unless you live in the world of musical theatre/Broadway

Re: Differences in Broadway version

Thuis also hooks in with what the drama intake in Fame (the Alan Parker film) were being asked to do during the first and second years. They had to ID emotional responses and then be able to funnel them into acting..

And what was one of the modules that the dance intake have to take? "Acting for dancers".

Ahh - here's the clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRlgb6mjR3E

Basically telling them how tough it will be...

Re: Differences in Broadway version

Glad the whole Zach onstage thing has finally been cleared up. He WAS onstage the times mentioned. Just enough time to put a face to the voice. Saw this show twice on B'way in 1975 and agree with all the negative comments. Basically, if you saw the show onstage, the movie is a bomb. If you didn't, there's just enough of the original left that one would find enjoyable, and make one wonder why people are putting down what they had just enjoyed. It's a shame Michael Bennett wasn't allowed to direct the film. I think he would have presented a very gritty, stark film that would become glitzy only in the final number...And by the way, that line about being 29 got a laugh the two times I saw it, because the audience was hep to the fact she was lying.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

Glad the whole Zach onstage thing has finally been cleared up. He WAS onstage the times mentioned. Just enough time to put a face to the voice. Saw this show twice on B'way in 1975 and agree with all the negative comments. Basically, if you saw the show onstage, the movie is a bomb. If you didn't, there's just enough of the original left that one would find enjoyable, and make one wonder why people are putting down what they had just enjoyed. It's a shame Michael Bennett wasn't allowed to direct the film. I think he would have presented a very gritty, stark film that would become glitzy only in the final number...And by the way, that line about being 29 got a laugh the two times I saw it, because the audience was hep to the fact she was lying.

Re: Differences in Broadway version

Bad as the movie is, even the original musical (as I recall) had a few logic problems itself. One of the major subplots was Paul's near pathological inability to admit the shocking secret that. . .he's. . . GAY!!! This from a guy who's been working in a drag show since he was 15 (has anyone ever heard of a SHY professional female impersonator?). . . and is now trying to become a chorus boy, one of the most gay-friendly occupations of modern times???!!! Whatever.

This is not unheard of at all--there are many, MANY gay men even in theater who are in denial or in the closet. Everyone follows their own path to self-acceptance, and sadly some never find that. I can think of many gay male performers I know whom seemingly everyone "knew" they were gay, but they would never admit it. Even now, even in theater, it can be very difficult to admit. (And even in theater, flaming homosexuality in performers is not as accepted as you think--on stage, directors often want their male performers to be very butch. In fact Michael Bennett, the original director/choreographer of ACL, used to yell at Sammy Williams to stop acting so gay, to butch it up more.) And remember 1) ACL first came out in '75 when things were very different, and 2) Paul's story is, almost word for word, the story of one of the writers, Nicholas Dante. Everything that Paul says, actually DID happen.
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