BWW Blog: Adam Lendermon of Maltz Jupiter's A CHORUS LINE - Interview with 'Cassie'
I wanted to take the time to introduce a few of my castmates during my blogging stint, so I've put together a few questions that will hopefully give you some insight into who they are and their connection to the show. Who better to begin with than Cassie? I have had the great pleasure of working with this beautiful and talented soul on the show previously. It is an immense comfort knowing that she is standing next to me on the line again. She is family.
"I want you to tell me your name, real name if it's different. And I'd also like to know where you were born..."
Hi! My name is Elizabeth Earley and I am from West Chester, PA (outside of Philadelphia).
"What made you start dancing?"
This makes me laugh in light of the technology that exists today, but I started dancing after being inspired by listening to a record that came with a used record player my grandfather had bought at a flea market. One of the records was the story of "Tina the Ballerina". After listening to that story which I continued to do often, my conviction to dance was set at the age of two. I didn't actually have much exposure to watching dance, but, from that time forward, I danced everywhere I possibly could. For my fourth birthday, my babysitter (still my second mom as far as I am concerned) who had seen me dancing plenty and who heard me pining for lessons, decided to gift me six weeks of dance lessons at a local dance school. I was hooked and my wonderful parents managed to work hard to let me continue.
What is your first memory connected with A Chorus Line?
When I was about 9 years old, I saw a national tour of ACL at Valley Forge Music Fair (which no longer exists). I remember being fascinated by it, but also feeling a bit overwhelmed by the show. Even at 9, I was keen to the mania that the show paints about what it is to struggle and survive as a performer in New York City. It frightened and inspired me at the same time.
How do you relate to the character on the line that you are playing?
It is such a gift to get to breathe into "Cassie" again and it is an opportunity I am blessed to experience. This role is the ultimate challenge in many ways and it humbles one intensely as they train to tell her story. I deeply identify with her struggle to achieve, her setbacks, her rediscovery of the essence of what matters most, and most of all I resonate with her fearless resilience to fight for herself when she has lost everything else. I truly believe that the dance and song of "Music and The Mirror" is an anthem for every artist who drills their place in the world despite adversity and past defeats. I believe most anyone can identify with the deep courage, humility, and honesty it takes to "stand on the line".
Who has most inspired or nurtured you as an artist?
I have had many, many remarkable teachers shape me over the years and I know that each and every one of them has added a bit of their flame to my own. Teachers are extraordinary people and I have been blessed to know many of mine closely which has inspired me to be a teacher. Most of all, I have had parents who have fought to understand my passion and my artistic desires whilst being very different people themselves. They have nurtured my growth tremendously with their love, support and time over the years. They have stood by me through the thick and thin times in life and in my career even if it was a bit of a struggle.
What is your favorite story to tell about something that has happened to you onstage?
Oddly enough one of the most memorable stories was something that happened to me when I was 12. I was dancing in corps of a recital ballet, "Eugene Onegin". Mid-arabesque I felt a sharp pain in my crotch. I tried to keep dancing but I couldn't and I ran off the stage. A mother who was helping people change found me and helped me out of my costume only to find a 3"(!) long safety pin open that my mother apparently used to hang the costume upside down on the hanger. Back then the changes were so fast and so frequent in the wings that I could wind up with the entire kitchen sink in my tights from a random false eyelash, bobby pins, feathers and sequins. Ha!
"What do you do when you can't dance anymore?"
I have had the pleasure of seeing women take dance class recreationally in their 70s, so I can't see myself not following in their footsteps. I think dance will always be part of my life. I am passionate about teaching performance. My mother has always been a teacher and I have taught dance since I was very young. In truth, I think I have too much of a responsibility to pass on the knowledge of my teachers not to continue to teach it and I find it exhilarating seeing my students put the pieces together. It's likely that I could find myself in another venue of body/spirit/energy work. I am open to that, but there is nothing quite as natural to me as storytelling through movement, song, and word. I have never been one to find a "back-up plan", even when I tried!
Elizabeth Earley is a graduate of NYU's Tisch School for the Arts (B.F.A) having trained at CAP21, The Experimental Theater Wing, and The Classical Studio. Elizabeth has internationally toured with Mary Poppins (1st and 2nd National Tours) and Whistle Down the Wind. Some Regional credits include Ragtime (The Kennedy Center and The Milwaukee Repertory), Evita (Sacramento Music Circus), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival), A Chorus Line (Merry-Go-Round Playhouse [SALT Award nominee] and Forestburgh Playhouse), Beauty and the Beast (Baltimore Lyric Opera House, Las Vegas' Aladdin Casino, Merry-Go-Round Playhouse). Elizabeth has appeared on "Dancing with the Stars" with the cast of Mary Poppins. She studied at the schools for The Boston Ballet, Washington Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet NYC (Scholarship Recipient), The Paul Taylor Studio, STEPS on Broadway (Scholarship Student), The Russian Ballet Theatre of Delaware, Ballet Theatre Pennsylvania, Brandywine Ballet, The Dance Center (in West Chester, PA), Harrisburg Dance Conservatory, and Harrison's Dance Studios. Elizabeth studied vocally at The Clydn Center and under the performance and vocal training of CarolAnn Page, Alix Korey, VP Boyle, Jen Waldman, Peggy Atkinson, Deborah Bly, and Jack Lee. She teaches dance privately in between gigs. www.elizabethearley.com for more information.