URI brings Broadway to Kingston with production of A Chorus Line

URI brings Broadway to Kingston
with production of A Chorus Line

KINGSTON, R.I. — November 14, 2001 — The University of Rhode Island’s production of “A Chorus Line” will bring a bit of Broadway to Kingston this year. Not only do two original cast members of the Broadway production choreograph the URI show, but one of those cast members will also perform in it.

Rita O’Connor, who toured in “A Chorus Line” with the National Japanese and Israeli Companies, and John Michael Richardson, who was in the Broadway and First National Companies productions of the show, are guest choreographers for the musical. Richardson also will play the role of Larry.

“They know all the original Michael Bennett choreography and are recreating it step by step for us. What you will see at URI is the original dancing and how it was meant to be,” said Paula McGlasson, director of the musical and chair of URI’s Theatre Department.

Conceived and originally directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett, A Chorus Line will run from Nov. 29 – Dec. 1 and Dec. 5 – 8 at 8 p.m. There will also be two matinees on Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. and on Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. Performances will be held in the Robert E. Will Theatre of URI’s Fine Arts Center on the Kingston Campus. Tickets are $15 for general audiences, $12 students, seniors, and children, and are available by calling the Theatre Box Office at 874-5843.

According to Richardson, seeing the original choreography of the musical really makes the show complete because Bennett wrote much of the music around the choreography.

“The show is designed around the original choreography. To me it always seems that if it isn’t used, then something is just missing. URI’s production isn’t a carbon copy of the show, just the choreography and movement is recreated, which is really nice for the students. It gives them a historical and educational perspective on the production while still making it their own,” said Richardson.

Richardson and O’Connor began planning in July in preparation for the show. He said it has been strenuous, but wonderful. To the students on the receiving end of this instruction, the experience has also been a wonderful challenge.

“Working with them really inspires you. While it pushes you to do more and can be more strenuous than anything you’ve done before, it’s a very nice experience. It’s great to know you had the chance to work with these people. I actually have worked with the people whose CD’s I have; it’s just fantastic. This show is going to be great,” said Donald Dallaire, a sophomore theatre major from Warren.

As a story, “A Chorus Line” presents a celebration of the unsung heroes of the American Musical Theatre – the chorus dancers, those valiant, over-dedicated, underpaid, highly trained performers who back up the stars. But director Paula McGlasson said that the musical goes beyond that to embrace the universal theme of enduring a terrific struggle.

“At the core, if you are a dancer or not, you can identify with what they go through. It is an incredible struggle, where they must make sacrifices to reach a goal. If you are a student struggling through college, a single mom, or in a difficult job, you can relate to this show,” McGlasson explained.

In addition to touring with “A Chorus Line,” Rita O’Connor acted in the Broadway Company of “Cabaret;” “Promises, Promises;” “Coco,” with Katherine Hepburn, and “Follies,” and in the National Company of “Chicago.” She was featured in “Coma” and “New York, New York” with Liza Minelli and Robert DiNero. She was also in the television movie “The Entertainer” with Jack Lemon, “When Things Were Rotten” with Mel Gibson, the “Ed Sullivan Show” and numerous television commercials.

Richardson also performed in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Five Finger Exercise,” “The Recruiting Officer,” and “Candida” at the N.C.S.A. London. At the Barker Playhouse he was in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” “A Doll’s House,” and “The Secret Garden.” He has also been director and choreographer for numerous shows at the Barker Playhouse, Academy, All Children’s Theatre, and the Arts Theatre in London.

Musical direction for the University’s production is by Lila Kane, and costume, scene lighting, and sound design are by David T. Howard, Christian Wittwer, Deb Sullivan, and David Roy respectively.

Cast members for the URI production of “A Chorus Line” are:
Student Role Hometown
Sean McConaghy, Zach, Rehoboth, MA
Kerissa Roderick, Cassie, Richmond, RI
Dana Damiani, Sheila, Riverside, RI
Nicole Polzella, Val, Dayton, OH
Heidi Beckmann, Diana, Wakefield, RI
Denise Lachowski, Judy, N. Stonington, CT
Sarah Autumn Feeley, Kristine, Saunderstown, RI
Katt Arcoraci, Maggie, Coventry, RI
Naomi Wilkinson, Bebe, Lincoln, RI
Ratkanhnha Siv, Connie, Providence, RI
John Michael Richardson, Larry, W. Warwick, RI
Adam Wasserman, Mike, Lincoln, RI
Donald Dallaire, Richie, Warren, RI
Dominique Doiron, Don, Woonsocket, RI
Jeff Smith, Paula, Narragansett, RI
Ryan Kenny, Mark, Warwick, RI
Adam Crowe, Greg, Narragansett, RI
Patrick Lynch, Bobby, Narragansett, RI
James Calitri, Al, Wakefield, RI

Note to Editors: Please contact the Theatre Dept. at 874-5922 or the News Bureau at 874-2116 to review this rich performance, or to speak with any of the actors or production crew! Also, pictures of cast members will be mailed out following the faxing of this release. Some photos are available digitally by calling 874-2116.

For Information: Paula McGlasson, 874-2712, Jhodi Redlich or Jennifer Smith, 874-2116