With choreography by Michael Bennett and music by Marvin Hamlisch, "A Chorus Line" took Broadway by storm in 1976, winning nine Tony Awards, including best musical, best original score, best choreography and best musical book.
The musical detailing the grueling auditions for a Broadway musical became one of the longest-running productions, with more than 6,100 performances over the course of 14 years before it closed in 1990.
Popular songs from the show include "One," "What I Did for Love," "At the Ballet," "Nothing" and "Dance 10, Looks 3."
The story follows the demanding auditions conducted by Zach, a driven, compulsive worker who puts the dancers through their paces. The show begins with 30 semifinalists in an empty theater, and Zach puts them through a vigorous series of dance combinations, including ballet and jazz.
He cuts the group down to the final 16 dancers -- eight boys and eight girls. But they and the audience know that number will be cut in half, and Zach will choose only four boys and four girls to be in his new musical.
Bradley Jones, a Staples grad who danced in "A Chorus Line" on Broadway and in touring productions, returned to his alma mater to teach the Staples cast the stylized Bennett choreography.
"The students have been working six days a week and for long hours on the weekends in order to master these complicated steps," the show's co-director, Kerry Long, said in a news release. "The results are quite impressive -- the kids have improved tremendously and have grown so much as performers in the process."
Staples looks for shows that have a large number of "great roles," co-director David Roth said in the release, and "A Chorus Line" fit that priority perfectly.
"There are basically 19-20 `leading' roles -- wonderful, full characters with monologues, songs and dance," he said.
But the dance component can be daunting.
"We are lucky to have many talented actor/singer/dancers currently -- so we thought that this would be a great time to try and tackle this great show," Roth said.
With that demanding dance component, cast members said, reality mimicked art in the Staples auditions.
"The audition process was a lot different than normal," senior Will Smith, who plays Zach, said in the release. "For one thing, we only had dance auditions and then straight to callbacks instead of having singing auditions. Auditions for this show were pretty much a mirror image of the plot of `A Chorus Line.' "
Cara Mcniff, a junior who plays Sheila, experienced a difference, too.
"The audition process for this show was a lot more nerve-racking than past auditions," she said in the release. "The opening combination we had to do for the audition is the opening of the show, which is where the characters are trying to get on the line. All of the emotions we were feeling at the time of the audition are what we have to feel and express as our character in the show."
The dance rehearsals conducted by the Broadway veteran Jones are intense, according to senior Michael Sixsmith, who plays Ritchie.
"Bradley's rehearsals are all about dancing," he said in the release. "We dance, and then we dance, and then we dance some more."
Since its Broadway opening in 1976, "A Chorus Line" has thrived into a fifth decade. The original spawned a London production in 1976, a 1980 Spanish-language production in Argentina, a 1985 film adaptation starring Michael Douglas, and a Broadway revival that ran for another 750-plus performances from 2006-08.
`A CHORUS LINE'
Where: Main Stage Theater, Staples High School, 70 North Ave.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21, and at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 22 and 23
Tickets: $15, $10 for students, at www.staplesplayers.co,m or at the door as available 30 minutes before show. Cash and checks only at the door. For student and senior citizen discount performances, visit www.staplesplayers.com and click on "Tickets."
Parental warning: Show has adult language and subject matter that may not be suitable for children.