Fresh take on Broadway hit

'A Chorus Line' explores the tribulations and motivations of those who seek success on stage

The cast of "A Chorus Line" at the Gainesville Community Playhouse.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 1:59 p.m.

Some bite their nails. Others tap their toes. Still others cross and recross their legs until the moment their name is called.

For many who share dreams of fame and prestige, the audition is a nerve-wracking, heart-wrenching process standing between the dreamers and their goals.

The longtime Broadway hit “A Chorus Line” explores the tribulations and motivations of those who seek success on the stage, and it opens at the Gainesville Community Playhouse on Friday.

Susan Christophy, who directs “A Chorus Line,” says though the time-honored hits like “I Hope I Get It” remain intact, this production will include original choreography and a fresh take on the characters.

“You have to honor the original. It's a gem all in its own,” she says. “But we're doing it from a nostalgic eye. We're looking back at 1975. And we've allowed the actors to develop the characters.”

Gainesville native Rikki Baynard, 19, plays Cassie, the oldest character in the cast, who experienced a period of success but saw it followed by a slump. Baynard says her character is passionate and driven but not bitter.

“She appeals to a lot of different age groups,” Baynard says. “She knows what desperation feels like. She'll go to the end of the world to do what she loves and be happy at the end of the day. Even me as a 19-year-old, I know what it's like to not have any other options. Being an actor — that's what I was put on the earth to do.”

Baynard attends The Circle in the Square Theatre School on Broadway studying musical theater. She says this production holds special importance for her, as she has been performing in musicals on stage since she was 11.

“How can you not try to audition for this? It's such an iconic show,” she says.

Christophy says she approached the preparation process for her actors with an almost religious manner. First she showed them “Every Little Step,” the 2008 documentary of the Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line.”

“Whenever I think of theater, I think of 'A Chorus Line,' ” she says. “The glamour of the costumes, the songs, the choreography. People have fond memories of the original. We had to approach this with a bit of reverence.”

Christophy says the production's message is one of strength, determination and holding onto one's individuality.

“This production is unique in that it looks at the actors themselves and the process they go through to create art. The heartbreak of the audition is such an integral part of the theater. We forget that the people on stage have their own lives they're bringing with them, and that affects who they are on stage. Every person is special and original, even if they're not the star.”

She says she hopes audiences leave feeling inspired and motivated to do what they love.

“Don't let anyone tell you that you should do anything else.”

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