My Q&A with 42nd Street's Caitlin Ehlinger

My Q&A with 42nd Street's Caitlin Ehlinger
Broadway in Chicago's 42nd Street

Arguably one of the best dance musicals of all time, Broadway in Chicago's 42nd Street opens tomorrow night at Cadillac Palace Theater. Caitlin Ehlinger plays Peggy Sawyer, the starry-eyed young dancer who shows up in New York City in 1933 to audition for the new Broadway musical Pretty Lady. When the lead suffers an injury, Peggy becomes the star.

Caitlin Ehlinger can relate to her on-stage persona as this is her debut on a national tour. Read on for my Q&A with Caitlin.

Everybody DanceNow: You’ve been dancing since you were three – that’s impressive! Describe your childhood dance studio and “Miss Susie.”

Caitlin Ehlinger:  I really got lucky when I started dancing at Miss Susie's, because my sister was four years older than me, and to make carpooling easier I was put into all of her classes (so that my mom wouldn’t have to drive back and forth a million times). This also meant that I was in a level of dance that challenged me a lot!...Miss Susie is such a smart woman and a tough cookie. She knows what it takes to be in the business and she knew exactly how to motivate me. I owe it all to her. I would not be in this position if it weren't for her, and I sure wouldn't be the person I am today.

EDN: What is your favorite genre of dance?

CE: Tap at the moment! It's fun, challenging and I feel good while doing it!

EDN: Peggy Sawyer’s story sounds a bit like yours. What’s it like to play her?

CE: It's fulfilling to be able to share the story of Peggy and 42nd Street every night. I connect with Peggy in SO many ways. Peggy goes through many emotions: excitement, fear, self-actualization, exhilaration; and I went through those same emotions in rehearsals for this show.

EDN: Your bio notes that you’ve always wanted to dance for Randy Skinner. What drew you to him? What is it like making that dream come true?

CE: It's quite surreal! My first class I took from him, I was around the age of 12, and his class was unlike any class I had taken. It was sold out, very crowded and so challenging. I remember standing in the back of his class and watching the older dancers. I loved the music and fell in love with Randy's style of dance. I knew that one day I wanted to be able to stand at the front of his class and dance with the effortlessness and ease of those older dancers.

EDN: Do you have any ties to Chicago? Will this be your first performance here?

CE: No ties! It will be my first visit and performance in Chicago!!! Talk about excitement!!!

EDN: You’ve accomplished a lot at such a young age. What is your advice to young aspiring dancers and performers?

CE: Your dreams are never too big or impossible. If you want something, use everything in your being to achieve that goal!  Prepare now for the opportunity that may come later.

Also, confidence comes from within, not from others. You are different from the person standing next to you, and you have something unique to bring to the table. No one else is like you.

For more info and tickets, visit www.broadwayinchicago.com.

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