How's this for a Cinderella story: Kevin Worley, who didn't even take a dance class until college, has performed on Broadway in such legendary dance shows as A Chorus Line and 42nd Street.
As a capper to his Cinderella story, he's now in Cinderella--the first-ever Broadway production of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, a musical written 55 years ago for television. The show, starring Laura Osnes in the title role, is currently in previews and slated to open March 3.
In Cinderella Worley can be seen as various residents of the kingdom, both high- and low-born. He's the guy carrying Harriet Harris' parcels when she makes her entrance as the stepmother, and he plays a fruit and vegetable vendor in the "Prince Is Giving a Ball" scene; later, he's the first guest at the ball to practice kindness after Cinderella suggests it as an alternative to ridicule for behavior at court, and when she flees the ball, Worley is the lord who informs the Prince that Cinderella's carriage "flew into the mist." Some acrobatic dancing ensues as the Prince and his attendants chase after Cinderella.
It's been a while since Worley did so much dancing in a show, as he spent much of the last four years on tour with Jersey Boys, a musical without big dance numbers. "Jersey Boys is a phenomenal piece of theater and I'm so glad to have gotten the opportunity to do it, but I was dying to dance again," Worley says. "Every night when we come off of one of [Cinderella's] big numbers and I'm drenched in sweat and heaving because I'm getting back in shape, I'm saying, 'This feels so good.' There's nothing like bustin' your ass on a Broadway stage!"
Worley last did such bustin' during the 2008 holiday season, when he was in the first Broadway company of the very dancey Irving Berlin's White Christmas. He had previously done White Christmas in the Twin Cities (2006), Boston (2005) and San Francisco ('04), as well as its very first production in the summer of 2000 at the St. Louis Muny. Worley was a student at St. Louis' Webster University at the time of that first White Christmas, and he worked at the Muny during summers throughout college. He's also returned to the Muny post-college for featured roles, including Action in 2005's West Side Story, Tulsa in Gypsy and middle brother Daniel in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (both in 2006).
More recently Worley had a lead role in regional theater: Fabrizio in The Light in the Piazza at Vermont's Weston Playhouse in 2008. He actually left a Broadway show--A Chorus Line, no less--to take the part. "It was a feather in my cap, because I had been the ensemble dancer who covers," Worley says. "To go to something completely non-dancing and extremely demanding vocally was huge." Coincidentally, when he was cast in Light in the Piazza he was working in Chorus Line with Michael Berresse, who'd been in its original Broadway cast. (Sarah Uriarte Berry, who'd played Berresse's wife in Piazza, reprised her Broadway role at Weston.) Worley was originally called in to audition for Fabrizio's brother Giuseppe, the part Berresse had played, but at the audition Adam Guettel--who wrote the Piazza score, and whom Worley didn't expect to be there--saw that Worley was more suited for Fabrizio and taught him Fabrizio's songs "Il Mondo Era Vuoto" and "Love to Me" for a callback the next day. "It was like a master class with Adam," Worley says.
Worley has frequently understudied principal roles--Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys, Billy Lawlor in 42nd Street, Patsy during a brief tenure in the Las Vegas Spamalot and Phil Davis in every production of White Christmas he was in (he never went on in that role, though). For Cinderella, he's covering both Jean-Michel and Lord Pinkleton.