Step, leap, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch…again!
I recently had a chance to chat with Director Danny Herman and Choreographer Rocker Verastique of Georgetown Palace Theatre's spectacular production of A Chorus Line which plays its final performances this weekend.
Given their long history and association with A Chorus Line, this project is indeed a labor of love. Danny started his career in the Original Broadway production of A Chorus Line and continued to perform in other Broadway shows such as Leader of the Pack and Song and Dance before directing and choreographing such shows as three different editions of Ringing Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the well-received Dreamgirls – 20th Anniversary Benefit Concert for The Actors' Fund. Rocker is an acclaimed dancer and choreographer. He has danced alongside greats such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ann Reinking, and Janet Jackson and has choreographed Austin Playhouse productions of Stop the World I Want to Get Off, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well, The Fantasticks, and A Funning Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and other local productions of Chess, The Pajama Game, and City of Angels.
Together, Danny and Rocker filled me in on everything about being on the line, from what it was like to work with Michael Bennett and Marvin Hamlisch to why the show is still relatable some 37 years later. Here's what they had to say…
JD: thank you so much, Danny and Rocker, for joining me today, and congratulations on a great production.
DH: Thank you so much.
RV: Thanks Jeff.
JD: So let's start with you, Danny. I know that you have a really long history with A Chorus Line. Do you want to tell me about your prior involvement in the show?
DH: Absolutely. I joined Chorus Line right out of high school in the late 70s as Mark and I kind of spent I think eight years there on and off. I started with Mark and then I went to Mike and Larry and eventually Zach. I kind of grew up in the show, during which I became involved with the creative team and Michael Bennett, and I learned all the things that they had worked on. I actually served as the Associate Choreographer on Michael Bennett's final project, a musical called Scandal with Swoosie Kurtz and Treat Williams that we workshopped in the early to mid 80s for two years, and then [Michael] died.
JD: And what was it like for you to work with Michael Bennett?
DH: Oh, it was crazy. He was extremely talented and had a great eye. You know, it was the 70s. Those gentlemen who were directing and choreographing back then were powerful megalomaniacs. He was exactly that. At times it was uncomfortable but at times it was amazing and I learned things there that I didn't learn anywhere.
JD: You mentioned that you played several different roles during your run with the show in the Original Broadway Cast. Are there any characters in the show that you feel particularly drawn to or feel that you're similar to in any way?
DH: The character Mike is very similar to me. He's Italian and I'm Italian and he started dancing very young. He was a kind of a gifted dancer. I was a tap dancer and a gymnast. It was a role that fit like a glove in terms of his skill as well as his background.
JD: And Rocker, what about you? Any characters that in the show that you feel you closely identify with?
RV: Well, I've performed Larry and Paul, and I identify a lot with Larry because I feel like I'm in that role a lot in my life so I connect with that. In terms of characters that I have never really gotten to perform, it would be Bobby. I'm a Bobby character.