International cast stars in 'A Chorus Line' coming to Colorado Springs

By Jen Mulson Published: March 12, 2018 0

Our fair city gets a surprising shout-out in the Tony Award-winning 1975 musical "A Chorus Line."

Scene: A group of dancers stand in a line on stage while an unseen director questions them about their lives. The bold and brassy Sheila announces she's 29 and from Colorado Springs.

Another tidbit: The character is based on the life of Kelly Bishop, the actress who originated the role on Broadway and won a Tony Award for her performance. You might know her better as the stern matriarch Emily Gilmore from the popular TV series "Gilmore Girls" or as Frances "Baby" Houseman's mother in the 1987 film "Dirty Dancing." Bishop was born in the Springs in 1944 and grew up in Denver, where she trained to be a ballet dancer.

Australian performer Kahlia Davis is living for this particular line. She stars as Sheila in the touring production coming to Pikes Peak Center on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I'm excited to step forward and say, 'I'm Sheila and I was born here in Colorado Springs,'" she said. Davis graduated in 2015 from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.

Set at an audition, the classic musical features a group of anxious performers hoping for a role in the ensemble of a Broadway musical. Each ambitious Broadway gypsy steps forward from the line and reveals life stories, hopes, dreams and what he or she will do when they can't dance anymore. Audiences will recognize still popular songs, such as "I Can Do That," "What I Did for Love," "At the Ballet" and "I Hope I Get It." It's a guessing game who the director will hire to fill eight roles by show's end.

Sheila, née Bishop, is on the brink of turning 30 and struggling with aging in an industry that deifies the young.

"Is she getting too old?" said Davis, 22. "There's also some vulnerability and looking around the auditions and seeing younger dancers and wondering if her time is coming to an end in the business. At the same time she's confident and sassy."

The show broke with tradition in the '70s by focusing on the singers and dancers who make up the ensemble of a Broadway musical. Until then, shows were centered on principal roles with a large ensemble.

"It's one of those classical musicals in the same group as 'West Side Story,'" said Davis. "People come and see the show and relate to the characters about growing up, the hardships you went through, personal struggles, through all the issues that are being discussed personally and politically."

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