For if there is any dancer who knows what life is like as a striving hoofer, it's D'Amboise. Though she has occasionally created roles in new shows, even winning a Tony Award nomination for Jerome Robbins' Broadway in 1989, she is most famous in theatre circles for being the ultimate standby and replacement actress, doing the less glamorous but essential work which is thoroughly dissected in Michael Bennett's classic musical. She has played Roxie in the long-running Broadway revival of Chicago countless times, and grabbed headlines when she stepped in to spell Christina Applegate in Sweet Charity when the latter broke her foot in a Chicago tryout. She is the ultimate trouper. D'Amboise discussed what may be the biggest break of her career with Playbill.com at a recent press meet and greet.
What place does A Chorus Line have in your personal past as far as having seen it, or having been in it, or having a special place in your heart?
Charlotte D'Amboise: Yeah, I think it has a special place—well, with these guys [referring to her fellow castmates], they're so young, so maybe not.
Playbill.com: Maybe they saw the movie.
CD: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah. Which is funny to me, because my husband Terrence Mann was in the movie. But, yeah, I saw the show. I think I may have seen the original cast. I only saw it once. Never played the part, never did the show. It meant a lot of me. I think after I saw the show, that was a big turning point with me wanting to go into theatre. That, and seeing Bob Fosse's Dancin'.
Playbill.com: What was the audition process like for you? You're by far the best-known member of the cast.
CD: I auditioned about a year ago. There were eight or nine of us auditioning for Cassie. We did a bit of the "Music and the Mirror" dance, and some of the opening, and some of the ballet combination. Then I got called in again six months later and I had to work with the musical director one day. Then another day I had to come in. Everybody was there. It was a full stage audition. It was a lot! Then, two days later, I got it.
Playbill.com: Were you surprised?
CD: Yeah. I didn't feel good about my audition. I felt good about the first audition and I knew they were interested. And then the second audition, I didn't feel good about. It was cold. It just wasn't a good day for me. I walked out of there thinking "Whatever." Playbill.com: You've created roles on Broadway, but not recently. Is it a good feeling to be back in an original cast, as opposed to being a replacement?
CD: Yeah. But I like replacing, actually. I don't need the attention. I feel sometimes it's a lot of pressure and stressful. I kind of like something that's less of a big to-do. But it is exciting and it's nice to get the attention. And it's good to be in something like this, something I wasn't involved in before. I'm excited about the part.
Playbill.com: Are you friendly with Donna McKechnie, who created the role of Cassie?
CD: I've taken classes with her a few times and I know her. I'm probably going to call her. Donna's fantastic.
Playbill.com: Not to be too meta about it, but I imagine some critics are going to draw some comparisons between your character and your actual career.
CD: Yeah, but I was looking at it, and actually there aren't that many parallels. But there are in the sense that I'm a dancer, and have danced my whole life, and done Broadway, and you have a dancer's mentality. I understand the part.