Born Conrado Morales in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, Dante's early career was spent dancing in the chorus of Broadway musicals such as Applause and Ambassador. In 1974, he was approached by friend Michael Bennett who invited him to the sessions which led to the basis of material for the book of a musical about Broadway "gypsies," the dancers who serve as a backdrop for the leading performers. Eventually, collaborating with James Kirkwood, Jr., the result was A Chorus Line, which earned him the 1976 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Book of a Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In particular, the story of Paul, the homosexual Puerto Rican dancer whose early career consisted of working in a drag show, was based primarily on Dante. The actor who originated the role on the famous monologue, Sammy Williams, won a Best Featured Actor in a Musical award in 1976 for the role. Dante himself went on to play the role in later mountings of the show.
He also authored a screenplay, Fake Lady, and a stage musical based on the life of entertainer Al Jolson entitled Jolson Tonite, but never again achieved the success he did with A Chorus Line.
Dante died on May 21, 1991 from AIDS-related complications in New York City.
(back row, left to right) Ed Kleban, Marvin Hamlisch, (front row, left to right) James Kirkwood, Michael Bennet, Nicholas Dante)
A Chorus Line: The Complete Book of the Musical by James Kirkwood, Michael Bennett, Nicholas Dante, Edward Kleban
Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: Applause Books; Reprint edition (May 1, 2000)
Amazon: A Chorus Line: The Complete Book of the Musical
It is hard to believe that over 25 years have passed since A Chorus Line first electrified a New York audience. The memories of the show's birth in 1975, not to mention those of its 15-year-life and poignant death, remain incandescent - and not just because nothing so exciting has happened to the American musical since. For a generation of theater people and theatergoers, A Chorus Line was and is the touchstone that defines the glittering promise, more often realized in lengend than in reality, of the Broadway way. This impressive book contains the complete book and lyrics of one of the longest running shows in Broadway history with a preface by Samuel Freedman, an introduction by Frank Rich and lots of photos from the stage production.
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