MILLBURN, NJ - A dazzling production of "A Chorus Line" had its opening night at Millburn's Paper Mill Playhouse on Sunday.
There was a full house and the audience was enthusiastic for the performance of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning musical which was originally directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett with music by Marvin Hamlisch.
Set during an audition for a Broadway Show, the musical shines a light on the hopes and fears of performers competing for a chance pursue their dreams. All of the numbers the cast performed received rousing applause including the full company's opening number "I Hope I Get It."
Lynn Donner of Livingston attended the show along with a group of friends who were in town to attend Millburn High School's 50th reunion. "It was the most phenomenal experience I have every had in theater," Donner said. "I loved it."
Other members of the audience agreed. Ira Guttman and Bernadette McTamney of Mount Laurel enjoyed the show very much. Guttman said he had seen the original cast on Broadway. "It is amazing to see a few generations later how true it is to the original show," he said. "It is magical and that's what it is all about."
Paper Mill's production of "A Chorus Line" is directed my Mitzi Hamilton and John O'Neill is the music director/conductor. Hamilton has been a part of the musical from its very beginnings and was the inspiration for the character Val in the show. Hamilton performed the role of Val in the original London company and on Broadway. She has directed more than 35 productions of the show.
Hamilton hails the new group of dancers at Paper Mill saying that they are so creative and blend their energies.
"Everyone will enjoy every moment," she said.
Mike Cannon, who plays Al, said that it was an honor to be in the cast and especially to be a part of it with Mitzi Hamilton.
After the show, there was a special tribute to Marvin Hamlisch who passed away in August of this year. Paper Mill's Producing Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee, was joined on stage by Hamilton and Kelly Bishop who won a Tony Award in 1976 for her performance as Sheila.
Hoebee, Hamilton, and Bishop all hailed Hamlisch's many contributions to the world of music and Bishop said that he had "exuberant enthusiasm." As a special tribute to Hamlisch, more than 50 former cast members of "A Chorus Line" joined together on stage to perform the show's signature song, "One."
Anne Connors was one of the dancers who joined the tribute. Connors was in the 5,000th performance of the show.
"The tribute was so exciting," she said. "It was electric."
Glen Turner was part of the 1988 Broadway cast and the European tour. Turner was also pleased to be part of the tribute.
"It's absolutely wonderful and brought back a lot of memories," he said. "It brought tears to my eyes."
After Sunday's opening night show, a red carpet event was held in downtown Millburn. Cast and crew members along with friends and audience members gathered to celebrate the success of Paper Mill Playhouse's production of "A Chorus Line." Food was served at Martini's Bistro and Bar as many posed for pictures and enjoyed the late night festivities.
"A Chorus Line" is "One Singular Sensation" that will be playing at Paper Mill Playhouse through Oct. 28 and will be performed eight times a week Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at (973) 376-4343
or by visiting the theater's website at PaperMill.org.