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This Broadway review by Simon Saltzman was prepared for the May
23, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Simon Saltzman: A Class Act
Chorus Line’ lyricist Edward Kleban, who died at the
age of 48 from cancer (a chain smoker), lived long enough to see his
name in lights — just once. Now the backstage story of Kleban’s
life, mostly his failed attempts to be recognized for both his words
and music, has been turned into an intimate, lovingly presented, and
beautifully performed musical. Moved to Broadway following its
run at the Manhattan Theater Club, "A Class Act" is indeed
that. Lonny Price not only stars as Kleban, but also has directed
the show. He also gets credit (with Linda Kline) as the show’s
"A Class Act" is small-scaled, but its heart and entertainment
quotient is big. It takes on a serious subject — its protagonist’s
neurotic and difficult to warm-up-to personality — but does so
with a brightness and clarity that makes us feel his many inner demons
and frustrations as well as his passion for composing. Much of the
show revolves around a lot of inside show biz stuff — rehearsals,
jealousies, and competitive personalities. But as book-ended by a
memorial service during which former girl friends (he surprised
by being straight), male friends, colleagues and collaborators
him, the show spins melodically and lyrically from anxiety to
Both devilishly intriguing and assertively abrasive, Price is
as this creative dynamo who couldn’t get a break after "A Chorus
Line." But to "A Class Act’s" credit are the previously
unheralded and surprisingly terrific Kleban songs that propel the
show. Spirited, witty, and warm, in turn, they deserve the attention
they are now being given by Price, who winningly dominates the
Also featured are Randy Graff, as Sophie, Kleban’s on-again-off-again
girl friend; Sara Ramirez, as his sexy, overbearing friend and
boss at Columbia Records; and Donna Bullock and Nancy Anderson, as
Kleban’s half-devoted, half-estranged friends.
But it’s not all about Kleban, his struggles with his work, and his
women. Patrick Quinn makes a hilarious impression as an effected
Engel. Also excellent are David Hibbard and Jeff Blumenthal, as
others. Although the show has been simply designed by James Noone,
and costumer Carrie Robbin, its effectiveness comes with the smart
and sassy telling of the story, the superb singing of the songs, and
the echoing resonance of a creative artist who is finally getting
his due. Three stars: You won’t feel cheated.
York, 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200. $25 to $75.
can be made through Tele-Charge at 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200.
Other ticket outlets: Ticket Central, 212-279-4200; Ticketmaster,
800-755-4000 or 212-307-4100.
For current information on Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, music,
and dance call NYC/On Stage at 212-768-1818, a 24-hour performing
arts hotline operated by the Theater Development Fund. The TKTS
half-price ticket booth at Times Square (Broadway & 47) is open daily,
3 p.m. to 8 p.m. for evening performances; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for
and Saturday matinees; and 11 a.m. to closing for Sunday matinees.
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