Printer Friendly

Time Steps: My Musical Comedy Life.

Time Steps: My Musical Comedy Life By Donna McKechnie with Greg Lawrence New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. 304 pp. Illustrated. Hardcover, $25.

The original Cassie in A Chores Line, Donna McKechnie was unforgettable as the spirited former Broadway star begging for a place in the ensemble. It turns out that not only did McKechnie's own school-of-hard-knocks experience feed into the role of Cassie, but it was also the source for other characters like Maggie and Sheila. After performing Cassie--and earning a Tony Award for it--McKechnie gained a reputation as a triple threat. But her long career was, emotionally and financially, a bumpy ride.

Growing up in Michigan with a mother full of regrets and a lather shell-shocked from the war, McKechnie defied her parents and left home to dance. Later her grandfather would refer to her as the "black sheep" of the family. No wonder she had self-esteem issues! Her romantic relationships seemed off-center from the start, the biggest fiasco being her attempt at marriage with Chorus Line choreographer/director Michael Bennett. They had been close friends and collaborators during the creative process of Chorus Line in 1975. Their short-lived union (Bennett was bisexual and later died of AIDS) was almost as painful as her debilitating bout with rheumatoid arthritis.

One of the most affecting scenes in the book happens when she is learning the leading role in Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity from Gwen Verdon. After the first run-through, an exhausted McKechnie exchanges glances with Verdon, who declares triumphantly, "You did it!" McKechnie treasures this gift of a role from one of the all-time greats. Her appreciation of her fellow artists-and composers, musicians, and stage managers--shines throughout the book. With every page, she is saying she did not do it alone. Fittingly, Time Steps echoes the message of A Chorus Line: McKechnie is part of a line of dedicated and talented co-workers, in space and in time. The book is an eloquent tribute to the group chemistry that creates the magic of musicals.--Wendy Perron
COPYRIGHT 2006 Dance Magazine, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Perron, Wendy
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Previous Article:On the cusp: second companies mean gaining experience, the chance to learn new work, and a shot at getting into the corps.
Next Article:In Blanchine's Company: A Dancer's Memoir.

Related Articles
Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance.
Dusky Maidens: The Odyssey of the Early Black Dramatic Actress.
Bernie Mac on How Life Is: I Ain't Scared of You. (nonfiction reviews).
Musical wizards of Oz: partners Mathew Frank and Dean Bryant talk about their gay musical Prodigal, coming from Australia to off Broadway. (theater).
The Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self.
Singing a New Tune.
Secrets to Standup Success.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters