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Time Steps: My Musical Comedy Life Paperback – November 23, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1975, singer-dancer-choreographer McKechnie was one of the brightest lights on the Great White Way, winning a Tony for her performance in A Chorus Line, and now theatergoers will be elated to see her autobiography shelved in stores only days before A Chorus Line's October Broadway revival. McKechnie's memories of the original musical's creative genesis serve as the centerpiece, and the other chapters are equally compelling. Her story is one of fierce drive and determination. Leaving Detroit at 16, she ran away from home to dance with a touring troupe, arriving in Manhattan at 17. Following a failed audition with American Ballet Theatre, she performed in Massachusetts musicals, filmed commercials and toured in West Side Story, leaping from the long-run Broadway hit How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 1961 to TV (Hullabaloo; Dark Shadows). By the time Stephen Sondheim's Company brought her back to Broadway in 1970, her career was a cakewalk, but the aftermath of a divorce from choreographer Michael Bennett led to a "vicious circle of depression." McKechnie writes honestly, revealing her innermost thoughts, looking back at family, close friends and intimate relationships, while probing her anxieties, low self-esteem and personal pain between the plaudits, raves and theatrical triumphs. 16-page photo insert not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

McKechnie won a 1976 Tony Award for her smart, sensitive portrayal in the innovative, ensemble-written musical A Chorus Line of Cassie, a character based largely on herself. She brings similar sensitivity and openness to her autobiography, written with eminent theatrical biographer Lawrence (Dance with Demons: The Life of Jerome Robbins, 2001). Not quite a tell-all, McKechnie's memoir reviews with remarkable candor the many highs and lows of a long, varied career: unhappy childhood, entry into show business (she was in a touring production before graduating high school), early Broadway success (in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying; Promises, Promises; and Company), two unhappy marriages, post-Tony career setbacks and comebacks, and myriad battles to overcome arthritis and depression. Her account of the making of Chorus Line, from early group-therapy-like workshops to the final touches for Broadway, is especially fascinating. That that career high was followed by a series of life-disrupting reversals, including a disaster of a marriage to Chorus Line director Michael Bennet, makes her story all the more riveting. Jack Helbig
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439191913
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439191910
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Alan W. Petrucelli on September 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
All she's ever needed was the music and the mirror and the chance to dance for you . . . Musical theatre fans will always recognize the last lines of the 11 o'clock number from A Chorus Line. The show, returning to Broadway this month in it's first revival since it closed there after 6,137 performances in 1990, starred Donna McKechnie. In her autobio, co-authored by Greg Lawrence, who wrote Dancing with Demons, the definitive bio of Jerome Robbins, there is much to like. The book, however, is not without a few jarringly uncomfortable moments.

McKechnie discusses in painful detail her brief marriage to genius director-choreographer wunderkind Michael Bennett. Bennett was gay, and was self-centered in a way mere mortals can only think about. Words like `manipulative,' `duplicitous,' `greedy,' `ambitious,' not to say `cruel,' `evil,' `mean' and `without conscience' litter remembrances of Bennett. McKechnie explains she married him, thinking, in a musical comedy ingénue kind of way, that he would change--she had known him a long time before they married, having done three Broadway hits with him, but then tells the reader entirely too much about this horrible, painful and demeaning relationship.

She recounts her battle with crippling arthritis in vivid and moving terms. Imagine being one of the most celebrated dancers in the world, then being told that not only would you never dance again, but very possibly that you'd not be able to even walk within a year. Her triumph in this battle, using traditional and holistic medicine, faith and unfailing determination, is the high point in the book. The authors try to cram as many names in as few pages as possible, and sections read like a theatre program of professionals from the last 50 years.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen A. Baxter on August 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful read. Broadway and musical fans will be thrilled to hear the insider stories, but also saddened that a woman as talented and driven as Donna McKechnie never became a household name. Unflinchingly honest, almost painful at times. I practically inhaled the book and I recommend it highly.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on November 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Broadway stars don't get the recognition that movie stars get, but so far as Broadway stars go, Donna McKechnie is pretty well up there. After all, winning a Tony goes a long way to separate the stars from the wanna be's.

In Broadway acting there's a balance between the capabilities of the star and the play that doesn't seem to be as strong as it is in movies. Every Broadway actor has a series of talents in some combination of singing, dancing and acting. The key to success is for that actor to find a position in a play that exactly matches the mix of these talents. For Ms McKechnie that came together in 'A Chorus Line.'

This book has a lot about 'A Chorus Line.' But it's from a personal side. How do you take the talents you have, get them in front of the people making the decision about who to hire and get the job. Then what do you do afterward. How do you handle the problems that life brings you. And why does it seem that those who rise to great heights offten have problems more severe than the rest of us, try to imagine what rheumatoid arthritis does to a professional dancer. After a lifetime of working to be a dancer, to be told you will will never dance again, indeed may not be able to walk.

As has been said before, actors don't do acting because they want to, they do it because they have to. Ms. McKechnie probably has to do walk this line, but she's also doing exactly what she wants to do.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gianfranco Ferrero on August 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
a true indispensable treasure of information for a lover of american musical shows.

simple in the text, rich in the content
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Wilson Trivino on September 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
When Donna McKechnie received her Tony for best actress in the musical Chorus Line, she bask in the glow of fame, success, and reaching the pinnacle recognition within the theatre world. However, up to that point and thereafter, there were many highs and lows.
Being a dancer, actress, and singer is much more than talent, it is the inner drive to become that character. Mikhail Baryshnikov best describes it as he states "When a dancer comes onstage, he is not just a blank slate that the choreographer has written on. Behind him he has all the decisions he has made in his life... each time he has chosen, and in what he is onstage, you see the result of those choices. You are looking at the person he is, the person who, at this point, he cannot help but be."

In Time Steps: My Musical Comedy Life by Donna McKechnie, this extraordinary performer candidly shares her life's story. You realize that the glamorous life is full of hard work mixed in with a few tears.

Literally running away from home at sixteen, McKechnie pushed through many obstacles to live her dream of becoming a star.

If theatre mirrors life, then Donna McKechnie is the embodiment of the story within Chorus Line, a dancer who has big dreams to make it and eventually does.
Time Steps: My Musical Comedy Life by Donna McKechnie will give you great insight into the hard work and dedication that it takes to bring to life a fantastic show.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Russell on September 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a theater person I always wondered why we have so little video or TV record of this amazing actress. In the 1970s she was the top dancer on Broadway. Thanks to YouTube we can see a few glimpses, but it is a shame that there is so few of her recorded performances to see. This woman was so talented one reads with wonderment about the many years she was out of the spotlight. Her growth as a person over her lifetime is remarkable. There is a very informative chapter on her successful fight against crippling arthritis.
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