A Chorus Line, a 1975 Broadway musical that would win nine Tony awards and a Pulitzer, will be heard like never before when it plays in concert version next week as a feature of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s latest collaboration with Rainbow Stage.
Directed by Rainbow’s newly-minted artistic director Carson Nattrass, the show will have singers accompanied by a full orchestra, including strings, an element that was missing when it first played on Broadway.
Nattrass says he learned that little tidbit from assistant director-choreographer Alexandra Herzog, who performed the play in Stratford.
"Being in that production, she was connected to two of the actors who were in the original production, so she has a richer understanding of how this musical was created and built and the little secrets behind it all," Nattrass says.
"One of the things that Alex was telling us about was that this show was a catalyst for a lot of things, one of which was that it was the first show to synthesize strings," Nattrass says.
"So, instead of having a 30-piece orchestra, all of a sudden, it changed. This show, in fact, has never been played with real strings.
Nattrass adds the symphony was so excited about that, they commissioned an expansion to their full orchestra.
"So, we’re going to hear this thing for the first time only in Winnipeg," he says. "It’s never been done before. That is such a treat," he says.
Unlike past Rainbow/WSO shows, such as last year’s production of South Pacific, the show will include both singing and dancing, anchored by local performer Catherine Wreford in the pivotal role of Cassie, the singer who reached the heights of the business and now needs a job — any job.
"With a show like, for example, West Side Story, many people know it for its dance, but you could easily enjoy that rich score without the dancing, with those soaring melodies," Nattrass says.
"This show, though, is truly about dance and it would be foolish to not dance it."
A component of the Air Canada Pops Series, A Chorus Line plays from March 16-18 at the Centennial Concert Hall, at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets start at $25 and are available at wso.ca/a-chorus-line.
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.