Chorus as star

It's glitter and energy. It's fun-filled tunes and dances. But most of all it's universal hopes and dreams - and a message. It's ''A Chorus Line,'' that popular eight-year-old musical which now has surpassed other perennial favorites like ''My Fair Lady'' and ''Grease'' to become Broadway's all-time, longest-running show.

Audiences on the Great White Way, across the US, and overseas have delighted in the catchy music and vibrant dancing. Yet there is more to its success than that.

From the opening curtain the performers, auditioning for a part in a chorus line, share with the audience their dreams of becoming stars on stage. They are dreams almost everyone can understand: Who has not aspired at one time or other to stardom in some field?

Yet for most people such personally outlined futures are not to be, any more than they are for chorus line aspirants - either in the musical or in ''real life.'' Instead, most of us contribute as members of supporting casts - on the stage in the many regional theatres around the US, in New York, or in other fields of work.

The topmost stones which form the apex of Egypt's spectacular pyramids require thousands of others, many hidden from view, to support them. So it is with Chorus Line and its world of singing and dancing. This long-running play has no star in the conventional sense of the word; rather, the entire chorus line itself is the star.

Former cast members learned this when they moved on to other jobs in theatre. Some had thought roles in the musical would launch their careers toward stardom; but in most cases they remained as they were, in the more modest role of chorus line aspirant and member.

There is a message here for us all. Goals and aspirations have their place. But they should not be inflexible goals which demand stardom to achieve fulfillment. All right work is important and of worth, on a chorus line or not. It is necessary to support the stars with a sense of the whole in view.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.