Kevin Ray Johnson
I would like you to meet Ashley Blair Fitzgerald. Ashley can currently be seen performing in the ensemble and as The Dark Lady in The Cher Show (which she is earning rave reviews!). She has also been seen on Broadway in On the Town and Gigi (which was her Broadway debut!) and Off-Broadway in Trip of Love. Her message of training and stepping out of your comfort zone is something I find truly inspiring and admirable. I was very excited to interview this very talented dancer!
How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a performer?
Like most kids I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. All I wanted to do was be Dorothy. At the height of this obsession, age four, I was the flower girl at my uncles wedding. During the reception, I walked up to the wedding band and asked them if they knew how to play “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. They did! I proceeded to perform the entire song. It was at that moment the writing was on the wall.
Where did you study? And are there any mentors that helped you in your career?
I studied dance at a small school in Columbia, Maryland just outside of Baltimore. My teacher, Shannon Torres, was with me from age 8-18. I also spent my summers attending the Broadway Theater Project run by Ann Reinking. There, I was taught by some of the greats: Gwen Verdon, Ann Reinking, and Gregory Hines. With regard to mentors, when I came back from the Come Fly Away tour I had a bit of a lull in my career. The jobs were not going my way. I started taking class with The Fosse Verdon Legacy. The class was led by Lloyd Culbreath and Valerie Petiford. These two people really helped build me up at a time when I was very down. I still see them and LOVE taking class from them.
How has your time been in The Cher Show?
The Cher Show was my first show back postpartum, so it’s definitely been a journey! I was five weeks postpartum(pp) when I auditioned, six months pp when we did the lab and one and a half years pp when we started Broadway. I’m so thankful for this job and so thankful that my baby girl is growing up seeing her mama do it all. I’m always excited to go to work, be with my friends and perform on that stage. And when the curtain comes down I’m always excited to go home and be with my family!
Do you have any favorite moments in the show?
I’d have to say “Dark Lady” is my absolute favorite. Being able to dance that choreography with those boys on a Broadway stage is a dream. I always seem to lose myself in the number and to me that’s a true gift.
Are there any other shows in your career (other than The Cher Show) that will always hold a special place in your heart!
Yes! The first one is Fosse. I did the US/into tour of it when I was 19. It was my first job and I’ll never forget it! The second is Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away. I truly learned the art of partnering on this show. The final one is Gigi. My Broadway debut.
What advice do you have for young aspiring performers
1.) Train. There are no short cuts to technique. It will help you with injury prevention, prolong your career and allow you to dance any type of style. 2.) Take classes that stretch you outside your comfort zone: An Acting class, a Voice class. Dancing is acting with your body. This will help you tell the story. 3.) Be fearless and take risks. Trust your choreographers and coaches. It takes courage but if you do the work, magic can happen.
The Cher show is currently running on Broadway at The Neil Simon Theatre at 250 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019. For more information about Ashley’s current show please visit – www.thechershowbroadway.com