After a year of “cattle-call” auditions in New York City, Lee LaChette landed the role of Bebe in “A Chorus Line.” On that happy day, back in the 1980s, she was so thrilled, so giddy, she didn’t quite look where she was going.
“Oh, my God, I was running out of the Shubert Theatre. I was so excited I ran into Liza Minnelli and knocked her over. I didn’t know it was her until I helped her up,” LaChette said.
Soon LaChette was traveling the East Coast with a touring company, enjoying the camaraderie with the rest of the cast. “You’re like brothers and sisters, very close-knit,” she said. “You do everything together.’
That pleasure and the joy of performing made up for the disappointment of times she had been turned away. “Once you make it,” she said, “there’s no better feeling in the world.”
Nowadays, LaChette does the choosing. As director of “A Chorus Line” at the Phoenix Centre for the Performing Arts in Duryea, she selected a Bebe, a Zach, a Cassie and all the rest.
“We’re doing it exactly like Broadway, with all the same choreography,” she said.
“How many boys? How many girls? How many people does he need?” Characters ask each other that question eagerly and anxiously as they bring their hopes, talents — and personal stories — to an on-stage Broadway “audition.”
Eventually, LaChette said, many of the young actors in her cast hope to attend such events in real life and to become one of the “boys” or “girls” a director decides to use.
She can tell them it’s not easy.
“Sometimes I was number 500-and-something out of 1000-and-some” who were trying out, she said.
At first, she said, “you walk out in groups of 10 and they look you up and down to see if you’re the ‘type’ they want.”
“From there, you get to sing and dance and act,” she said. “You could be there for eight or nine hours.”
“This show gives them (the cast) a taste of what auditioning is really like,” she said.
It also gives the audience a chance to meet various characters as individuals before they sing and dance as a synchronized unit. And, of course, “A Chorus Line”includes such well-known numbers as”One,” “I Can Do That,” “What I Did For Love” and (Everything was beautiful) “At the Ballet.”
The final weekend of the show marks the fifth anniversary for the Phoenix Centre, which opened May 27, 2008, with the mystery/comedy “Clue.”