Lyric Theatre's production of A CHORUS LINE Photo by Wendy Mutz
When did you get introduced to “A Chorus Line?” What was your reaction? If you were young, did it intimidate you or make you fearful of pursuing a career in such a competitive field?
My first true experience in an actual chorus line was in Lyric Theatre’s first production of WILL ROGERS FOLLIES (1996). I was the youngest in the cast, as well as the shortest, I was on the end of the line. It was my first Lyric Theatre show and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I honestly didn’t know much about the show, A CHORUS LINE until 2001, when Lyric Theatre had it lined up for their summer season. I had always heard about it and I knew it was a show that was important in musical theatre history. I also had heard the song, “One,” but I was pretty oblivious to what the show was really about. I remember someone saying there was a song in A CHORUS LINE about “Tits & Ass” and so in the future, when anyone mentioned A CHORUS LINE… to sound like a savvy musical theatre buff , I would say, “Oh, that’s that tits & ass show!” Well, as I learned later, “that ain’t it kid!”
In the spring of 2001, I was in college, and my professor, Tamara Long, suggested that I audition for Lyric Theatre’s production of A CHORUS LINE and that I look at the character of Val. So, I got the Original Broadway Cast recording and found out Val WAS the “Tits & Ass” girl! Leading up to the audition, I listened to that CD over and over again, preparing, and praying, as the lyric suggests: “God, I hope I get it!” I auditioned onstage, like the characters do in the show, and I specifically remember thinking: “I’m auditioning for a show that’s about auditioning for a show. If I get it, remember this feeling!” I felt really good about my audition, and I ended up getting the role of Val!
So, really my first true experience of the show was being IN it! And even though I was young, it didn’t intimidate me or make me fearful of pursuing a career in the competitive world of show-business, because I was hungry for success! Right out of college, I moved straight to New York City, and then I began to learn the truth of the business and the stories in A CHORUS LINE began to make a whole helluva lot more sense…
Do you have a personal connection to the piece? If so, please elaborate?
If I’m really honest with myself, I have a bitter/sweet relationship with A CHORUS LINE. It’s a gritty piece of art. It exposes a lot of truth. And as the old saying goes, ‘Sometimes the truth is hard to hear.’ Sometimes I examine the show and I relate to the character of Al, thinking, “What am I doing in show-business?!” And other times I think, “There is absolutely nowhere else I would rather be than right here on this stage.”
As our amazing musical director, David Andrews Rogers, says, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” A CHORUS LINE is 100% musical, in that it absolutely requires the best dancing, singing, and acting a performer can bring to the stage, which is exhausting, yet exhilarating!
What do you like the most about playing Sheila? /
What’s the biggest challenge related to playing Sheila?
Sheila IS a challenge… characteristically speaking in the show, AND literally to me!
What I like most about playing Sheila is the challenge!
In my career, Sheila is unlike any other character I’ve had to play before, and I love stretching my comfort level as an actress. I enjoy digging for her rich dramatic depth and coming up with a resplendent disaster.
A big challenge in general with all of the characters in A CHORUS LINE is keeping them real. In a way, A CHORUS LINE was groundbreaking for the concept of reality entertainment. These are real people telling real stories, and every role challenges the limits of the singer/dancer/actor to the ultimate. Sheila has been around the block and has a real story to tell layered with drama and heartbreak.
You played the role of Val in a previous Lyric production of “A Chorus Line.” Can you talk about some of the differences in the characters and has playing a different person/point-of-view in the show changed your perspective on it?
It’s not the different character point-of-view that has changed my perspective on the show, it’s the 10 years that have gone by that have changed my perspective on the show.
Since Lyric’s last production of A CHORUS LINE (2001), I’ve lived in & out of New York City 8 years, I’ve gone to countless auditions and classes, I’ve eaten a lot of ramen noodles, I’ve had injuries, I’ve worked temp jobs, I’ve wondered where my next pay check will come from, I’ve questioned my career decisions which were based off of a teenager’s dreams… But, I’ve also performed for thousands of people and traveled to amazing places. I’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible artists who have challenged me, encouraged me to grow, and who have enriched my life more than I could possibly know. And ultimately, becoming like family to me! All of this and a passionate desire is what drives home the idea of, “What I Did For Love.”
Simply through time, experience, and age, I relate more to the show now than ever before. And I imagine as time marches on, so will my admiration and understanding of A CHORUS LINE.
Any favorite musical numbers in the show?
A CHORUS LINE is full of musical gems. I really admire Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban for creating a musical masterpiece! I personally really enjoy the entire ‘Montage’ section, which is where every character is flashing back to their childhood, sharing the journey of adolescence & surprise! It’s a fun and energetic part of the show full of 70’s grooves & a cast full of smiles! It makes me happy!
Can you discuss your experiences so far working with David Marquez and the rest of the cast and crew?
David Marquez is an incredibly passionate dancer and was extremely insightful on opening my eyes to the character of Sheila. We were also extremely fortunate to have the assistance of Halden Michaels who performed in 2 touring companies and the Papermill Playhouse revival of A CHORUS LINE. His wonderful knowledge and love for the show is amazing and he has been so delightful to work with in keeping the show true to it’s origins. Our musical director, David Andrews Rogers, is absolutely brilliant. I adore his love and dedication to the music and to the cast. He conducts with such a full heart, and the music flowers up from the orchestra-pit with so much resonating love. And, I can honestly say that I’m always proud to wear a Jeffrey Meek costume! I applaud artistic director, Michael Baron, for choosing this incredible show to wrap up Lyric Theatre’s 2011 summer season, and I’m eternally grateful to have the honor to be a part of it!
Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
I have heard many stories that A CHORUS LINE was the first show they ever saw, or the show that made them want to be in the business, or the show that changed their life forever because it affected them so deeply. This show is truly magical and heartfelt. If you love musicals or you’ve never seen one in your life, I’d say this show is for you.