Acting Teaching Drama

A Chorus Line – A “Nothing” Showdown – Movie Scene Monday

We’re changing Movie Monologue Monday a bit this year. We’re going to add a character or two and call it Movie Scene Monday. Not as alliterative as the original title, but it’ll do.

January is going to focus on the arts and education.

This week we’re looking at two versions of the song “Nothing” from A Chorus Line. (Thanks to Jamie Honeybourne for the suggestion!)

A Chorus Line is a musical based on real conversations with Broadway Gypsies. Gypsies are the workhorses of Broadway, the performers who are there in show after show, but who are largely unknown by the public. In “Nothing,” Diana Morales describes her experiences with a particularly bad acting teacher.

I’m including two different versions of the song. The first version is from the 1985 film. I also located a concert performance by Lea Salonga. I know it’s not a “movie” version but I think it’s a great contrast and worth discussing. I’ll let you decide for yourself which performance you prefer.

Yamil Borges in the 1985 film

n.b. This version has a word that rhymes with “wool mitt” in it. It’s cleaned up in the Salonga version.

Lea Salonga live in concert

Class Exercise

Watch the videos and discuss these questions. Don’t worry about whether or not everyone has seen the whole movie. Fill in the missing details using what you see, hear, and imagine.

General Questions

  • Have you ever been in a class where you felt like everyone else was “getting it” but you weren’t?
  • Based on the song, would you like to have Mr. Carp as a teacher? Why or why not?
  • If you were in Morales’ situation, would you do the same thing as her?
  • What could the other students in the class have done to help Morales?
  • Why do you think Morales succeeds at becoming an actress?
  • What is the message of the song?

Version-Specific (do this for each version as they’re quite different)

  • How would you describe the actor’s physicality? How does she move? How does she hold her body?
  • How does she use her voice in acting the song?
  • Does she ever make her voice sound less than perfect on purpose?
  • Graph the emotional journey of the song.

Compare and Contrast

  • Which actress shows more vulnerability?
  • Contrast performing on film with performing on a huge stage in an arena. What adjustments have to be made in each case?
  • Which performance do you prefer? Why?

Is there a scene you think we should feature on Movie Scene Monday? Send it to me (preferably with a YouTube link) and I’ll love you forever.

About the author

Craig Mason