Toledoan follows mom’s footsteps to Broadway, beyondWritten by Scott McKimmy | | email@example.com
When Kelly Sheehan followed in her mother’s footsteps, she ended up on 42nd Street in New York.
The former Toledoan sang and danced her way into the Broadway revival of “42nd Street” four years ago at age 17. She performed in the chorus and later won the replacement role for the supporting character, Loraine, a sidekick to a main character.
“Luck was definitely on my side. It was the right place at the right time,” she said.
Julie O’Connell, had joined the original company 20 years earlier as a chorus member, and when calls rang out for auditions for the revival in 2001, she took Sheehan to New York “just for the experience.”
O’Connell’s reaction straddled excitement and hesitation.
“She had to leave high school early and get set up in New York,” she said. “So she kind of proved me wrong. I told her, “‘Oh, this business is so hard; are you sure you want it be a dancer?’ ”
O’Connell teaches dance at her studio in Toledo, while Sheehan lives in Los Angeles, preparing for rehearsals for “White Christmas,” which opens in January. Sheehan’s resume dates back to her childhood when she started acting and singing just like her mother taught her.
“At 7 or 8 years old, she was doing a lot of work — commercials and on ‘Star Search.’ She was really a great little performer even as a little kid,” O’Connell said.
Sheehan learned dance styles from jazz to tap to ballet from her mother as well as other professional instructors. Born New Year’s Day in 1983, she entered the world just in time for O’Connell to begin rehearsals for the original “42nd Street” production.
“Pretty much all throughout my life I’ve gone to professional dance classes, growing up in New York and Los Angeles and having experience through auditions,” she said.
O’Connell recently branched into a new sideline, coordinating shows for the local men’s basketball team, the Toledo Ice. She held auditions looking for eight to 12 “young, energetic dancers” and said she hopes to create interesting halftime shows for the crowd at the SeaGate Centre, where the Ice will hosts its games when the season opens on Nov. 4.
“When this Toledo Ice opportunity came up, I thought I would be here for a while and help them get started,” she said.
She also continues to develop her own troupe, the Julie O’Connell Dancers, from her studio at St. Ursula Academy.