Three 'A Chorus Line' cast members share connection

WESTON - There's not a singular sensation in "A Chorus Line" at the Weston Playhouse, but rather a group. Three of the cast members - Jim Raposa, Hayley Swinburne and Zach Gordon share a Burr and Burton Academy connection. Raposa is a drama teacher at BBA, while Swinburne and Gordon were both students. Gordon just graduated and said Raposa was one of his theater mentors. He said being able to perform with someone who has helped shape his theater career is one of the best parts of the show.

"It's amazing to watch him perform," Gordon said. "It's my favorite part of the whole experience He went from being my teacher and mentor and now he's my co-worker."

Gordon said he was a a part of every musical and play in his four years at BBA and considers himself a dancer. He said his specialties are ballet, modern and contemporary dance. He will be taking the next semester or so off, but then will head to school to study dance somewhere. Gordon, like Swinburne, plays one of the cut dancers in the show. Gordon's character, sweatband guy, is only on stage the first 20 minutes or so. Swinburne's character gets cut even earlier - she's only on-stage for 11 minutes.

"It's one of the most challenging shows I've ever done," she said.

Getting ready, stretching and then not finishing the show is a new experience, she said. Swinburne graduated from BBA in 2006, so she was not one of Raposa's students. However, that doesn't mean she doesn't feel the BBA connection.

"BBA's a tight knit community, so I've gotten to know Jim and I immediately connected with Zach they're both great guys," she said.

Swinburne is a professional dancer in New York and said it has been great to come back to perform at Weston and get to stay at home with her family for two months.

Raposa is playing the part of Zach the choreographer in the show and said the best part of the role is the challenge it holds.

"To present this character as a fully realized three dimensional person, who has loved, has been hurt emotionally, yet is able to have empathy with certain characters such as Paul as they open up about their lives," he wrote in an email. "The show really is a representation of what "gypsies," Broadway dancers, still go through to get a job."

Raposa also loves working with a former students. He said he is proud of the growth Gordon has made as an actor and dancer, applying the techniques he learned at BBA.

"It is fantastic. To see the growth in Zach as an actor and dancer, to see his confidence grow as he works with the young company and the Equity professionals from NYC while he applying the dance and acting techniques together with the work ethic and professionalism that we teach at Burr and Burton Academy makes me very proud of him,"

Raposa's favorite part of teaching theater, he wrote, is working with students and seeing them learn life skills through art, like active listening, research, public speaking or teamwork.

"To help any student gain self confidence to be able to follow their personal dreams, while understanding that they can make a difference in their world as a person, an artist, activist, whatever, excites me," he said. "I have always believed that theater not only entertains but can educate. I love the creative process and the understanding that I can help young people fan the fires of their creativity through theater, dance, film design. etc. I also think it is very important to keep performing in theater as a teacher, because there is so much that you can learn from the directors and choreographers that you work with."

"A Chorus Line" will run through Aug. 23. For more information about the show or for tick ets, visit


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