Production Image of A Chorus Line in Leicester Curve from 2021, featuring the full cast ensemble in character as Broadway dancers auditioning

A complete guide to all the songs in 'A Chorus Line'

Face the music and the mirror with Marvin Hamlisch and Ed Kleban's timeless score in A Chorus Line, which is playing at Sadler's Wells this summer.

Julia Rank
Julia Rank

A Chorus Line returns to London this summer as part of a UK tour. Nikolai Foster’s fresh production features original choreography and stars Adam Cooper and Carly Mercedes Dyer in the key roles of director Zach and auditionee Cassie.

Marvin Hamlisch’s score is quintessentially ‘70s, yet timeless. The score features passionate solos and patchwork-like montage numbers. Hamlisch started his career as a rehearsal pianist on the original Broadway production of Funny Girl (he and Barbra Streisand became lifelong friends). He went to Hollywood, where he won Oscars for Best Song and Best Original Score for The Way We Were, starring Streisand.

A Chorus Line was Hamlisch’s first Broadway score, for which he won a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Award. He is one of only two people to have achieved the feat of an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award) sweep and a Pulitzer (a record he shares with Richard Rodgers). His other Broadway scores include They’re Playing Our Song, The Goodbye Girl, and Sweet Smell of Success.

The witty, character-led lyrics are just as integral to the show's success. Record producer and teacher Ed Kleban was something of a one-hit wonder as a lyricist. The biographical musical A Class Act features a selection of his unproduced songs. Winners of the Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre include Jason Robert Brown, Robert Lopez, and John Weidman.

Revisit the songs or get to know them for the first time ahead of your visit. Each one really is singularly sensational!

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Opening: I Hope I Get It

We’re plunged right into the action, a cattle call audition where instructions are barked by director/choreographer Zach: “Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch... Again!” The auditionees are filled with self-doubt as they try to keep calm and even momentarily let themselves hope for the best. All of them need this job and are prepared to dance their hearts out – they aren’t aspiring to be stars, just to land a chorus spot. At the end of the number, the surviving 16 form a line, holding their 8x10 headshot photos. This is no ordinary audition. In fact, it’s going to be more like group therapy as Zach questions them about their personal and professional lives.

I Can Do That

The first auditionee to be put under the microscope is Mike Costa, the youngest of a family of 12. Mike tells the story of how, as a small child, he watched his sister’s dance classes and when she didn’t want to go one week, he ran seven blocks to step in and never looked back (“And so I stayed the rest of my life / All thanks to sis / Now married and fat”). An upbeat tap number with vaudevillian elements, it’s probably the most positive song in the show.

At the Ballet

One of the line-up’s more mature members, outspoken 30-something Sheila is scolded by Zach for her prickly attitude. He asks her about her mother. She starts abrasively (“Daddy always said that he married beneath him…”) before she softens, remembering how “Everything was beautiful at the ballet…”. She’s joined by Bebe and Maggie, who have similar memories attending ballet classes “Up a steep and very narrow stairway / To a voice like a metronome… it wasn’t paradise but it was home.”

Bebe also had a complicated with her relationship with her mother, who told her she’d grow up to be very attractive: “Different, she said, with a special something / And a very, very personal flair”. Bebe wasn’t fooled – after all, “Different is nice but it sure isn’t pretty / Pretty is what it’s about”.

Maggie, the sweetheart of the group, explains that her parents had her in an attempt to save their marriage, but, unsurprisingly, it didn’t work. She took refuge in her fantasy life dancing around the living room with "an Indian chief" representing the father she never had. Her high E soars. You may well find yourself choked up.


Newlyweds Al and Kristine step forward. Poor Kristine is completely tone deaf and Al helps her through this fast-paced comedy number. It must be much more difficult than it looks to perform!

Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love (Montage Part 1)

A montage that explores the messy experience of puberty – everyone has something to say! Connie never grew beyond 4-foot 10-inches and Paul had to keep his sexuality a secret. Like the opening number, it melds together song, dialogue, and dance in an organic whole.

Nothing (Montage Part 2)

A zinger of a monologue sung by the witty Diana Morales. Transferring to the High School for Performing Arts to pursue her acting ambitions, she encounters pretentious drama teacher Mr Karp, an adherent of Method Acting. Diana does not get along with this style of teaching (“So I dug right down to the bottom of my soul to see how an ice cream felt / … And I tried to melt”) and is bullied by Karp and the other students. Eventually, she goes to church to pray to the Virgin Mary, who encourages her to find another plan.

Mother (Montage Part 3)

More mother issues, featuring lovely melody for Maggie singing to her absent mother. And in terms of teen crushes, Robert Goulet is out, Steve McQueen in.

Give Me the Ball (Montage Part 4)

Greg recalls awkward incidents at school. Ritchie recalls that he thought he would become a kindergarten teacher. Adolescence is over and life has begun?

Dance: Ten; Looks: Three

Most of Val’s solos in the montage numbers concern her lack of development in the chest area. She’s taken action by undergoing plastic surgery (“T--s and a-- / Bought myself a fancy pair / Tightened up the derriere / Did the nose with it / All that goes with it” and suddenly she’s getting a lot more interest, professionally and personally. She’s certainly a convincing saleswoman. This number is irresistibly catchy and upbeat in tempo, but pretty bleak in sentiment – that’s what makes it so clever. The objectification of the female body and the pressure to conform is an all-too timeless theme, and it will be interesting to see how this number is staged in the new production.

The Music and the Mirror

We haven’t mentioned Cassie yet, Zach’s ex-girlfriend and the seventeenth candidate. Having had some success in featured roles but damaged by a disastrous attempt to break into Hollywood, she’s returning to her roots, trying for a chorus job for which Zach deems her unsuited – she’s too good and too much of an individual. Finally getting a chance to speak to him one to one, she starts gently but becomes increasingly assertive. A true tour de force of solo song and dance.


The hopefuls are put through their paces with the show-within-a-show’s key chorus number, a celebration of the unseen and unnamed leading lady’s talents (“One smile and suddenly nobody else will do…”). The instructions going around in their heads are vocalised – all the details that make the chorus’s contribution appear effortless.

What I Did for Love

While practising the tap combination, Paul falls and suffers a career-ending knee injury. The dancers talk about what they plan to do when they too can no longer perform. Diana sings the show’s poignant and philosophical 11 o’clock number, in which they conclude that “the gift [of dance] was ours to borrow” for the time granted to them, and they have no regrets for pursuing this difficult and often punishing vocation as they head towards tomorrow.

One (Reprise)

The final eight are selected. Each cast member get their moment in the spotlight as they take their bow. Their individual rehearsal outfits are replaced with identical gold costumes as they form a seamless ensemble celebrating the unseen stars. A bittersweet finale indeed.

Book A Chorus Line tickets on London Theatre.

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Photo credit: performers in A Chorus Line. (Photo courtesy of prouduction)

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