The ''Gilmore Girls'' matriarch remembers her career-defining role

By EW Staff
October 20, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

I had been in the business about 10 years. I had quit chorus work — I wanted principal work. I’d given myself two years to either move up higher or chuck it all. I didn’t have much money and it literally never crossed my mind that I should wait a table or temp — I had to get a dancing job. This [role, Sheila] came along and I thought, ”Beautiful. There it is. The open door.” I honestly didn’t care if A Chorus Line was a hit. It was something I believed in, something I thought was wonderful. I didn’t expect everyone to like it; I thought people would say, ”What do they think they’re doing? Nobody cares about dancers.” Most of the story was culled from [our] real lives. ”At the Ballet” is me. The show was an extraordinary experience. And suddenly, I had a Tony award.