The excitement. The anticipation. The exhaustion. The stomach-churning fear of rejection. Erica Scanlon Harr is familiar with it all. Standing before a director at a crowded and potentially life-changing Broadway audition, it can be difficult to stay focused.
"For a performer, an audition is essentially your job interview," says Scanlon Harr, an actress and former Miss New Jersey. "So you kind of ask yourself a million questions. 'Do they like me? Am I tall enough? Is my dancing good enough? Am I pretty enough?'"
Those experiences are why Scanlon Harr was anxious to take on the role of dancer Cassie in the Broadway classic "A Chorus Line," which will kick off the 2013 season at Hammonton's historic Eagle Theatre. The production runs from Friday, Jan. 18, through Saturday, Feb. 9.
The 2013 season at the Eagle Theatre also includes "The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)," "Hair," "Urinetown: The Musical" and "Little Shop of Horrors."
"A Chorus Line" opened on Broadway in 1975 to widespread critical acclaim and went on to become the longest-running musical in Broadway history until it was surpassed by "Cats" in 1997. The story centers on a group of aspiring dancers auditioning for only a few available spots. Their stories, dreams and aspirations are told through songs such as "I Hope I Get It," "What I Did for Love" and perhaps one of the best known Broadway songs of all time, "One."
For Scanlon Harr, who competed in the Miss America Pageant in 2004 in Atlantic City, the role is personal.
"You're constantly questioning if you're good enough in so many ways," Scanlon Harr says. "This (show) highlights that struggle - and also the joy. It does a great job of expressing the community (among) performers. You're going out against these people … knowing they're your competition. But then you're working together. I think this is one that every performer wants to do at some point in their life. Because you do experience all of those emotions."
Scanlon Harr, a graduate of Manhattan's New School for Drama, has been active in the region's theatre scene for several years, performing at the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia and the New Candlelight Theater in Wilmington.
For "A Chorus Line," Scanlon Harr will be joined on stage by her husband, Greg Harr, who will play the role of the director, Zach. It will be the first time the couple shared a stage in almost six years, when they played a newlywed couple in "Barefoot in the Park."
"We met doing theater back in high school - opposite each other in 1999 in 'Guys and Dolls,'" Scanlon Harr says. "So this is really great."
She says she appreciates the honesty in the show.
"One of the things that I find so fascinating about the show is that the characters were all based on real people," Scanlon Harr says. "(Show director) Michael Bennett … got a bunch of his friends together and he recorded their conversations. The details in the show - down to where characters are from - those are all real stories from real actors. And so the honesty that's in there makes it a vulnerable and true story."
The concept of creating a show around the often faceless dancers in the background was unprecedented at the time, and the musical went on to win nine Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Scanlon Harr says the story resonates with audiences so much because the emotions are universal.
"You try to not take things personally, but it's hard not to," she says of the audition process. "It's really hard not to separate it from 'I'm not good enough,' so that's a hard thing to commit yourself to doing over and over again. The cast that we're working with is such a talented group of people. If you put this group in a room, you would have your own version of the show. There's something really exceptional about portraying something that's real. We all kind of re-live their stories."