Bill Larkin as Edward Kleban in Porchlight Music Theatre’s “A Class Act.” Photo: Jeremy Rill
Something about A Class Act, a small musical with a big heart, captured my emotional core. The story of a talented guy who wants nothing else in life but to be publicly recognized for his true passion, but for various reasons, including his own personal demons, never gets fully discovered before passing away at a relatively young age (48) is something we can all relate to. No?
Edward Kleban was best known for writing the lyrics for to the musical A Chorus Line (with music penned by the late, great Marvin Hamlisch, who passed away last month). And beyond that… not much else. While Kleban was a smart lyricist (if you’re reading this review you’re probably familiar with “At the Ballet” from A Chorus Line, which exemplifies his knack for matching words to music), he was also a well-rounded and versatile musical theatre composer, a skill that never got recognized beyond his small circle of admirers.
So when director, writer and actor Lonny Price, along with book writer Linda Klein, got together a decade after his death to explore the numerous songs Kleban had written over the years, they knew they had happened on a treasure-trove of material. So, they got to work, stitching together a show celebrating his nearly forgotten life. That show premiered on Broadway in 2001, starring and directed by Price.
And thankfully, through Porchlight Music Theatre’s beautifully realized Chicago premiere of this artfully structured memorial musical, we get to not only hear Kleban’s heartbreaking and witty tunes performed by top-tier Chicago talent (under Beckie Menzie’s superb music direction), but also gain a deeper appreciation about the messy and fascinating process of creating musicals. Read the full review on The Huffington Post >