By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Dero Sanford | Hair & Makeup by Fontaine Leonard with B. Barnett | Costume from Arkansas Repertory Theatre | Shot on location at Argenta Community Theater
Considered an American classic, A Chorus Line remains a timeless tribute to theater and a lifestyle that’s intrinsically singular and sensational. It’s a testament to the determination and sacrifice of performers whose struggles remain in the shadows as they step onto the stage to dazzle + delight audiences. The cast of characters authentically represents the grit + glam that comprise an ensemble and the passionate pursuit of a dream. That’s the legacy of A Chorus Line and why this iconic production continues to captivate generations.
This summer, Argenta Community Theater presents its own unique rendition of the iconic musical with Arkansas native Jennifer Rhoads as leading lady. Jennifer’s experience reflects the essence of A Chorus Line and the lessons that resonate. We all compete; the struggle is real < and relatable > in the ironic game of life. We each define our own journey and what we’ll do for love.
Jennifer graduated from Oklahoma City University and moved to New York City to pursue her dream: professional theater. She continued her training and worked in three musicals during the pre-Broadway workshop phase. She explains, “It was so interesting, educational and exciting to be a part of the first stages of a Broadway production – no show goes to Broadway before going through at least one workshop phase, usually more. It was an incredible opportunity to perform for and meet some Broadway legends like Composer Stephen Sondheim and Executive Producer Cameron Mackintosh who worked on Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon – among many others.”
After working in musical theater in New York City and Chicago, Jennifer returned to academics at Northwestern University. “I decided to stop performing because, somewhere along the way, I’d lost my passion for it and my interests had changed. I vowed that I wasn’t stepping back onto the stage until I could find some joy again in the whole process of creating a performance,” Jennifer remembers.
When Jennifer heard about this production, it rekindled a spark in her heart. “It was like a magic switch just flipped.” Jennifer was introduced to musical theater by Sally who along with her husband Vincent Insalaco and Judy Tenenbaum established Argenta Community Theater. The organization serves as a beacon in Central Arkansas for innovative collaborations as well as a nurturing place for its patrons and participants. “I was SO out of practice and was actually nervous about auditioning, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about what a great experience it could be – performing in one of my favorite shows back in my hometown – on the stage that is named after my first and most influential dance teacher, Sally Riggs- Insalaco.”
Jennifer takes the stage as Cassie, who returns to New York more experienced and humble than many of her peers in the audition. Like Jennifer, it’s Cassie’s love for the theater that brings her back. Jennifer’s heartfelt portrayal of a vulnerable yet spirited performer represents the essence of community theater with a timeless message of self-discovery and acceptance. “Community theater allows people to come together and create something they love. The process of creating something with a group who’s passionate about the same thing is a true joy,” Jennifer reflects. Vince adds, “Perhaps more than any other show, A Chorus Line defines the mission of the Argenta Community Theater. From teaching children to introducing the community to new ideas, it’s all about what we do for love.”