Friday, March 11, 2011

broadway birthday A CLASS ACT -opened 10 years ago today on March 11, 2001

A Class Act opened on Broadway 10 years ago today after an Off Broadway run at the Manhattan Theatre Club in the late Fall of 2000.   A Class Act tells the story of Edward Kleban, the man most famous for writing the lyrics to A Chorus Line - but he was also a composer as well.  The show uses various songs written by Kleban to tell the story of his short life - he died in 1987 from throat cancer when he was 48.   The show was directed by and starred Lonny Price as Kleban - and Price and Kleban's long time partner Linda Kline were credited with the book.  The show provided a good understanding of how Kleban's career evolved and also documented somewhat the creation of A Chorus Line .   Kleban was a participant in the BMI Workshops, where songwriters meet to write shows and help each other with the process.  This workshop was started by Lehman Engel, a famous Broadway composer and conductor.

I saw the show twice - once with the original Broadway Cast and the second time with most of the original cast but with the understudy for Ed, as Lonny Price wasn't able to perform.  Lonny was in the audience the night we went, and appeared to be enjoying seeing his understudy perform.

The show was recorded with the Off Broadway cast and released right before the show opened on Broadway.   The Broadway cast included Lonny Price as Ed Kleban, Randy Graff as Sophie, Patrick Quinn as Lehman Engel, Donna Bullock as Lucy, Jeff Blumenkrantz as Charlie & Marvin Hamlisch, Nancy Anderson as Mona, David Hibbard as Bobby & Michael Bennett and Sara Ramirez as Felicia.   Ramirez is now best known for playing Callie on the tv show "Grey's Anatomy."  It's too bad that the show was recorded with the Off Broadway cast, as Ramirez, Bullock, Quinn and Blumenkrantz were not in the origingal Off Broadway production.   My favorite songs from the show are "Fridays at Four," "Paris through the Window," "Under Seperate Cover," "The Next Best Thing to Love," and "Better."

Lonny Price and Sara Ramirez
 A Class Act opened at the Ambassador Theatre on March 11, 2001 and ran for 30 previews and 105 regular performances.   I think the fact that The Producers opened up one month later pretty much made the producers of A Class Act realize that they didn't have a chance at winning any Tony's and the show closed on June 10, 2001.
Tony award performance -  

Amazon link to buy the Off Broadway cast recording...A Class Act - A Musical About Musicals (2001 Original Cast)

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