Actress Daria deGaetano can check one more item off her bucket list: her wish to star in the Tony Award-winning musical A Chorus Line. Starting June 8, she will appear as Cassie Ferguson in Richmond Triangle Players’ production of the show. That’s a big win for her.
“This is a show where I have only been a bridesmaid and never been a bride,” says the New York-based actress who’s appeared in a variety of musicals.
In past tryouts, she has gotten callbacks for the role of Diane Morales in the show and that’s what she was expecting this time around. “I went in dressed as Morales and had her songs prepared,” she says. “They asked if I knew the Cassie stuff, and I said ‘yes, everybody knows that.’ I remember dancing for my life because I needed to book this show. It’s been a dream of mine.”
The show, winner of the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, celebrates the highly talented chorus dancers who back up the star of a musical theater production. “It really is the New York audition story. It was written in the 1970s, but the audition process is still the same today,” deGaetano says. “I can pinpoint friends who are like the characters.”
The character she plays is a seasoned veteran of musical theater who left dancing in the chorus line to go to Broadway and later Hollywood. Now she’s back, auditioning for ex-boyfriend Zack, to win a place back on the chorus line.
“Cassie is really brave. She has to stand up for herself,” deGaetano says. “She is constantly having to prove she belongs there with everyone else. It’s a pleasure to be playing someone like that.”
deGaetano can relate to being in a transitional phase in her career. “I am seeing a woman who is trying to get to the next place, doing it through her passion – the thing she has always loved,” she says. “Cassie is going back to dance because that is her roots and that’s something I can relate to.”
Alexa Cepeda, who plays Morales in the show, finds inspiration in her character as well. “Morales inspires me to be tougher and not get down on myself,” she says. “She looks toward the future and not in the past. She teaches you be loyal to yourself and to that light inside of you.”
This isn’t the first time Cepeda has stepped into this role. She played Morales during her senior year at Ithaca College where she majored in musical theater. “My favorite part about Morales is that she feels like the lighthouse of the cast,” she says.
Morales must face the fact that working hard doesn’t mean you’re going to make it in musical theater. The question is — how long do you hold onto the dream? “Morales takes all those truths and says ‘I didn’t come this far just to come this far.’ When things get tough she keeps going,” Cepeda says.
A Chorus Line puts a magnifying glass on all of the dancers and explores what made them the artists they are. “They have to examine their hardships, joys and relationships. All of that comes on stage with them,” Cepeda says. “Embracing that is a mirror of humanity.”
She likes taking on this role again after getting some real work experience in Philadelphia. “I like to think Morales is me on my very best day,” she says.
The two are alike in their determination to defy “the things that tell you it’s not going to work out,” Cepeda adds. “We have a similar affinity for looking on the bright side.”
A Chorus Line previews on June 6 and 7 at Richmond Triangle Players Robert B. Moss Theatre at 1300 Altamont Ave. The show opens on June 8 and runs through July 7. Tickets range from $20 to $40. For more information and tickets, visit rtriangle.org or RTP’s facebook page.
Tickets can also be purchased on the RTP Ticket hotline at 346-8113.