On this date the American dancer and writer NICHOLAS DANTE was born (d. 1991). Best known for the hit musical A Chorus Line. Born Conrado Morales in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, Dante’s early career was spent dancing in the chorus of Broadway musicals such as Applause and Ambassador. In 1974, he was approached by friend Michael Bennett who invited him to the sessions which led to the basis of material for the book of a musical about Broadway “gypsies,” the dancers who serve as a backdrop for the leading performers.
Eventually, collaborating with James Kirkwood, Jr., the result was A Chorus Line, a groundbreaking musical which earned him the 1976 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Book of a Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In particular, the story of Paul, the homosexual Puerto Rican dancer whose early career consisted of working in a drag show, was based primarily on Dante. The actor who originated the role on the famous monologue, Sammy Williams, won a Beast Featured Actor in a Musical award in 1976 for the role. Dante himself went on to play the role in later mountings of the show.
He also authored a screenplay, Fake Lady, and a stage musical based on the life of entertainer Al Jolson entitled Jolson Tonite, but never again achieved the success he did with A Chorus Line. Dante died on May 21, 1991 from AIDS-related complications in New York City.