Four Stars Share The First Time They Danced Their Dream Roles

October 5, 2017

Is there a part you desperately want to do, something that makes your heart sing? What would it be like to get the chance to perform it? For some lucky people, dancing a coveted role is a dream that comes true. We asked four top dancers how it felt when they got the opportunity to do a cherished part.

Jessica Lee Goldyn as Cassie in “A Chorus Line” (courtesy Goldyn)

Jessica Lee Goldyn
, musical theater dancer

Dream role: Cassie, in A Chorus Line

Growing up, we would do a “Chorus Line workshop” every summer at my home studio. My jazz teacher played Paul in A Chorus Line all over the country, and he taught me some of the original choreography. Then I saw the show at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, and I remember feeling numb and kind of in awe. That was it! I was in love. I actually auditioned for NYC’s Professional Performing Arts School with Cassie’s big solo, “The Music and the Mirror.”

I made my Broadway debut as Val in A Chorus Line, which was thrilling, but I wasn’t covering any other part. At the end of the two-year run, they didn’t have anyone to do Cassie for the final week of performances. So they auditioned me, and quickly made me a cover for the role. Then, in a “throw on” situation, I ended up doing it! I didn’t get a lot of rehearsal time, but it was incredible.

Since then, I’ve done nine productions of the show, playing Cassie in each one. I’ve worked with Donna McKechnie, the original Cassie on Broadway, and she helped me infuse life into the part. It became a dialogue instead of just a chance to kick my leg really high, like I did when I was 21. I stripped away the performance aspect and really told my story.

The show has been such a through-line in my life. In a way, Cassie’s story has started to mirror my own. What’s exciting now is that I’m almost the “right” age to do the role—Cassie’s supposed to be a little bit older. I hope I get to play her again, because it’s still a dream role, even though I’ve done it so many times.

A version of this story appeared in the October 2017 issue of
Dance Spirit with the title “Livin’ the Dream.”