Interview: Angelique Cassimatis (A Chorus Line)
A Chorus Line returns!
A Chorus Line revolutionised the notion of what a musical could be, when it opened in 1975 and placed itself firmly as an icon in the echelons of music theatre, running for a mighty 15 years.
In 2020 Darlinghurst Theatre Company is bringing this electrifying work back to the stage. Based on the real-life anecdotes of 24 dancers which explore bullying, racism, sexism, power and passion, this strikingly intimate production in our 200 seat theatre will feature entirely new choreography, from Director and Choreographer, Amy Campbell.
To kick off, what show are you currently working on and what is your role in the production?
I’m currently prepping for A Chorus Line and I have the incredible honor of playing the role of Cassie.
What drew you to this show and why do you think now is the right time to be bringing this story to the stage?
This is one of my bucket list musicals. It’s the ultimate triple threat show!
A Chorus Line is a timeless story that every performer can relate to. The audience is transported right into the audition room, giving them insight into how ‘full on/bizarre’ the audition process can be.
What has the experience been like working on this show? What has been unique about this show and your process in comparison to other shows you have worked on?
It’s been an intense few months preparing for Amy Campbell’s choreography! I still have a long way to go but I’m getting there. My last few shows were primarily singing tracks with less movement. This show is going to be more physically challenging, but I’m excited for it.
What can audiences look forward to in this show or why do you feel it is a story that they need to hear?
The audience will feel as though they are in the audition room with us; the nerves, the egos, and quite possibly the sweat flung from each of us! It’s a special piece as it’s the closest you will get to see of what actors, dancers and singers are put through every time they go for a job.
What has been the most rewarding part of this show to create for you?
The most rewarding part of this process has been creating a new dance for Cassie. The original is so iconic, it’s a nice challenge trying to bring something fresh to it, that has some of my own style in it. It’s great to strip everything back and get back to the story.
Why is this a production that a 2020 audience cannot miss?
The characters and their stories are timeless, their relevance is undiminished in 2020. We are excited to bring Amy Campbell’s new choreography to this classic piece for today’s audiences.
When first beginning a new project, what is the first part of your process in approaching a new role?
I read through the whole script slowly with the songs in order. I need to know how my character relates to the others in the story.
What has the rehearsal process been like in bringing this story to life? By the time audiences see this show on stage, what has gone into making it happen?
It’s such a physically demanding show - Amy’s got me workin’ hard! I’ve been going to pilates, yoga and spin classes to get my stamina up and rehearsing my dance number. Just, lotsa that. Lots and lots of that.
Do you have any opening night rituals? If so, what are they?
I meditate! My good friend Deone Zanotto taught me how to meditate just over a year ago. I do 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. It helps, especially on opening night when my heart’s beating faster than usual.
when was the turning point for you when you realised that theatre was not just a hobby but a passion? How did you go about making it your career and is there any one show that you can attribute this to?
I was lucky enough to be one of the top six in the Rob Guest Endowment in 2013. I was approached afterwards by my friend Josh Robson to put together a one-woman show. It turned out to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but I’m forever grateful for that opportunity because it helped me grow as a performer. It inspired me to keep working hard and gave me confidence to pursue a career as a performer.
Across your work, is there one story, thought or theme that keeps you interested in continuing to create? What stories do you find yourself drawn to the most?
I’m drawn to the more obscure shows - the shows that don’t get put on a lot or have a huge following. They often have great stories, great music, and when they are brought to Australia and are picked up by smaller production companies and reimagined by great local creatives, I love that. They take risks and it’s exciting. I’m drawn to those kinds of projects and Australia has a thriving independent theatre scene, which is producing shows that rival and eclipse even mainstage productions.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and what is still on your performance bucket list?
Performing with one of my theatre and screen idols Paul Capsis!
My performing bucket list is pretty long! I’d love to be asked to perform a role overseas. It’s a lot, I know, but a girl can dream, right?
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given that you would like to pass on to aspiring theatre makers?
A few years ago I was lucky enough to meet one of my Idols Caroline O’Connor. I asked her for advice on the ‘biz’ and she said something along the lines of “find what you’re good at and play to your strengths”. Don’t lose what makes you unique.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
What is your favourite production you have ever seen?
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world - where do you go?
Greece! I’ve never been.
What is your dream show to work on?
What is a hobby you have beyond the theatre?
I love to cook. I’m not great at it, but I love it.
What’s next for you after this show?
A few weeks of rest!
A Chorus Line opens at Darlinghurst Theatre Company on March 13, 2020. You can get your tickets here.