God, I hope he gets it… right. Does the world really need a muscle-bound TV personality (who paid his dues on Kids Incorporated and shot straight to C-list fame with Saved By the Bell) to step into the acclaimed New York company of A Chorus Line? Mario Lopez will make his Broadway debut as Zach, the director of the show-within-a-show who persuades auditioning dancers to talk about their personal lives.
Lopez’ career has been all over the map for years, but you gotta wonder, how did Slater end up in A Chorus Line? At first I thought Lopez was too young for the role of Zach, but don’t let his baby-face fool you — he’s in his mid-30s. When he partnered with ballroom champ Karina Smirnoff on a certain ABC talent contest, his talent as a dancer was obvious. And I don’t doubt he’ll be comfortable giving direction and choreography to more experienced Broadway veterans (for proof, see this clip of Lopez on Megan Mullally’s short-lived chat show). However, it’s always going to be risky to cast a famous name in the role of Zach, since the point of this musical theater masterpiece is to focus on the usually anonymous chorus gypsies. (That’s why scripting more Zach screen time for marquee star Michael Douglas helped torpedo the 1985 film version, although the Cassie flashback wigs must share the blame.)
I can only guess that the Broadway production’s creative staff began thinking of Lopez as Chorus Line material after his name recognition rose with each passing week on Dancing with the Stars; they probably envisioned him as Larry (the legwarmered assistant who drills the dance steps), or Paul (the shy Puerto Rican dancer), or Al (the buff guy whose wife can’t sing). But then they must have seen this cheeze-explosion (clip below) from the Oxygen original movie Husband For Hire, and said to each other, “Ummmm, yeah. He should play the guy who’s not on stage very much.”
PopWatchers, do you think Lopez has what it takes to be a Broadway star?