"It's a big coup for us to get the show," says Nicholas Howey producer of the award-winning "A Chorus Line," the longest running show in Broadway history, which opens Wednesday at the Harlequin Dinner Theatre in Rockville. "We're the first company outside of New York City to present it," Howey adds.
Harlequin, Howey says, happened to hear early on about negotiations to release the show. Usually, dinner theaters perform older musicals and, in many cases, rescore them to fit their unique settings. For "A Chorus Line," Harlequin made few changes in the production, but it did purchase $40,000 in sound and lighting equipment and lengthened the stage. "The show has lots of pizazz and flash, intimate feelings and vulnerability which will play well in an intimate space," says Howey.
The cast is made up of young actors, most of whom have performed in previous Harlequin productions. Dinner theater puts special demands on performers because, in addition to stage work, actors must also wait on tables before the curtain rises and collect bills during the intermission. Says Andy Umberger, who plays the role of Zack, the director who casts the show within the show, "It's a hectic environment and it's a lot of work. Some actors thrive on it, but it can interfere with things." Asked about the stereotype of actors waiting on tables to support themselves, he says, "The nature of this business is that you have to do this. Dinner theater is convenient. At least it's having one job."