A Chorus Line kicked off at the Music Hall last night in Fair Park to a pretty packed house. The mega hit musical, focusing on dancers auditioning for a show, is in town for a while. Next stop for the group? TOKYO!
After the show, cast members, donors and press attended the cast party hosted by the Dallas Summer Musicals Guild at the home of Karl and Catherine Chiao in University Park. What do actors-dancers do after such a physically and emotionally draining performance? Chow down. A press person at the door cautioned a group near us, “Oh, let the performers eat first before everyone heads into the dining room.” The Dallas hospitality had more than one actor commenting to us, “WOW, everyone in Dallas is SO nice!”
Dallas actress Pam Peadon (left, recently in WaterTower Theatre’s The Glass Menagerie), played the role of Cassie in the national touring production in 1976, and posed with Robyn Hurder, currently performing the role in the revival’s touring production. The role (Cassie’s a veteren performer down on her luck, trying desperately to get a part in the chorus) requires the lead to dance, sing, and emote her heart out.
We cornered Hurder, who was sipping a blueberry martini.
Aren’t you tired?
I am a little delirious. We all had a week off before the performance tonight. My husband and I just traveled in from Maine, so we’ve been up since 3:30 this morning. We got into Dallas around 11, settled into the hotel room and went straight to the theater for sound check. And now we have our cocktails and are at in this beautiful house in Dallas. There’s never been a time on this tour where we’ve felt so loved!
How did you get your start?
I studied at a ballet school until I was 18. Then I went to the University of New Hampshire for about a year and then quickly realized that school just wasn’t for me. I asked my mom if I could go to New York and audition for a week and see what happens. She said to just do it and I ended up getting a couple of job offers. Everybody has their own path and mine was to just go for it. I remember thinking, “You can always go back to school, but you can’t always kick.”
How long have you been playing Cassie on this tour?
Eight months now. As time goes by, I keep finding something new in the role. I become a little bit more grounded. We’ve had a nice rotation of actors playing Zach (the demanding director role in the show) and it makes me grow so much as an actress because it’s a different take on the character each time someone else does it because we all have to react to him and he drives the scenes. Tonight’s performance was spontaneous. Michael Gruber plays Zach and he and I only had our first rehearsal two weeks ago and just looked at each other and said, “Have a good show!”
The role of Cassie is obviously emotionally taxing and physically grueling! How do you do it every night?
You can’t get too comfortable with it. You have to let the role take you and let it take control over you and not think about it too much. Especially with the dance (Cassie’s intense 5 minute solo). I don’t practice it. I do the bare minimum during the day to preserve my energy to do the dance — it’s the hardest part. Luckily my comfort is dancing first. I just don’t think about it and when I am on stage, I just let the music take over. I was a little nervous tonight and I haven’t been this nervous in months. I got this feeling that the Dallas opening was a really huge deal. I just felt this energy. Plus we all had a week off – the first week off in a whole year – so the energy backstage tonight was really bubbly.
What else is there to do after playing Cassie?
Well, I’m doing it until the middle of November. I am looking forward to doing the last four or five months of the tour. I need to go back to New York. You start with a clean slate man…you go back to the beginning. I’m going to be doing exactly what we do in the show — which is to go back to those auditions and hope I get another job.
A Chorus Line will run in Dallas until July 19. FYI, cheapest tickets are only $15!