The run of "Chicago" at the Hippodrome (now through Sunday) represents a homecoming of sorts for cast member Robin Masella, who plays Liz, the condemned prisoner who shot her husband after he popped his gum one-time-too-many.
Though raised in Queens, N.Y., Masella, 29, is a proud Retriever, an alum of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where she majored in dance and received a teaching certificate in early childhood education. Since leaving UMBC and returning to New York City, she's performed throughout the country in such shows as "Evita," "The Little Mermaid," "Guys and Dolls" and "Spamalot."
Since joining the road show production of "Chicago" in September, Masella's performed in more than 15 cities, most recently in Naples, Fla. (after Baltimore, it's off to Ontario and Richmond, Va.). During a rare moment of downtime, Masella talked about performing in such a popular show, making a career out of musical theater and more.
HOW DID YOU GET CONNECTED UP WITH "CHICAGO?"
I auditioned over the summer. I was on tour with the national tour of "Evita" for about the year prior to that, and we had a break in the summer. I went back to New York City and auditioned for "Chicago." After two days of auditions and call backs, I got the job.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS KEPT "CHICAGO" SO POPULAR? THE PLAY IS SOME 40 YEARS OLD NOW, AND IT HEARKENS BACK TO THE 1920S AND '30S.
The story is fun. What surprises me so much is that it's actually a very funny show. The style of dance is very specific, and I think very different from what is out on Broadway. It's a very specific style, and I think it's fun and sexy. That draws audiences in. It's a classic story.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GET INVOLVED WITH DANCE IN THE FIRST PLACE?
I started taking dance classes when I was 2 1/2. I was put in a ballet class. I come from a musical theater family. My father's in the business, he's a director. And my mom, while she's not an actress, was a music major and very musical.
Growing up in New York City, I grew up going to see Broadway shows, going to operas, going to ballet. I always loved dance, I was very drawn to dance. And when it came time for college, I really wanted the college experience, I wanted the university and wanted that whole style of going away to school, but I still wanted to continue dancing. That was a big thing for me.
UMBC was one of those schools that allowed me to have that college experience, but also perform — which was very important for me.
IS THERE A DREAM ROLE, ONE ROLE FROM MUSICAL THEATER, THAT YOU WOULD ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO PLAY?
I would say Cassie, from "A Chorus Line," has always been a dream role for me. It's kind of an iconic dancer lead role.
DO YOU EVER SECOND-GUESS YOUR DETERMINATION TO MAKE IT AS A DANCER?
When you have a job, you're on a high and you're performing and you're getting to do what you want to do. But that job always ends at some point. You're always challenged with the question of, "Did I really make the right decision, to pursue this?"
But so far, so good for me — as long as I keep getting work and enjoying it. When I'm on stage, it's an amazing feeling.