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Your Charmed Life

Paul Tenaglia, the minister of my church, Unity Church of NYC, is a former actor and director with a strong sense of theater that he brings to Sunday mornings. Yesterday, he outdid himself. His topic was “One Singular Sensation: Metaphysics of A Chorus Line.” He told us how, as a 19-year-old actor, he showed up in New York for his first big audition: they cut his song off after two bars. That evening, he and some similarly rejected friends got SRO tickets for the original production of A Chorus Line on Broadway. It was magic. “This is the only production ever,” he told us, “to have as its first word ‘God,’ and as its last word ‘one.'” Pretty cool.

To further dazzle the congregation, he brought out as a special guest Donna McKechnie, who received the 1976 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for that very production of A Chorus Line Rev. Tenaglia had seen that night so long ago. She sang, she danced (I love it when people dance who aren’t twenty), and she shared how she was healed of the rheumatoid arthritis that had nearly destroyed her career. The whole story is in her book Time Steps: The Musical Comedy of My Life.

To further bring down the house, there were appropriate clips from the show sung and choreographed by talented church members (when the preacher’s a trouper, performer-types actually get up on Sunday morning). The climax was a glittering finale of “One Singular Sensation” with the full choir and a serious chorus line of people I see at church all the time but never knew were bona fide hoofers. Somehow, Paul even managed to borrow top hats from the original production. I was on the edge of my seat.

I’d never before thought of applying the words of that song to God, but now I’ll never hear them any other way:

One singular sensation
Every little step he takes.
One thrilling combination
Every move that he makes.
One smile and suddenly nobody else will do;
You know you’ll never be lonely with you know who.
One moment in his presence
And you can forget the rest.
For the guy is second best
To none,
Son.
Ooooh! Sigh! Give him your attention.
Do…I…really have to mention?
He’s the One?….”

(With thanks to the late Edward Kleban, lyricist. He and composer Marvin Hamlisch won the Tony Award for Best Original Score.)

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