I don’t know why I was so insistent — or persistent, however you want to look at it. So anyway, he called me back and said, “Okay, you can audition." I went in, and they hired me before I even left the stage. So I asked, “Well, what’s the role?” They said, “There is no role.” Then, I asked the choreographer, "How many dancers have you hired?" He said three. I told him I thought that was a strange number. At that point, he asked me if I was a dancer; and I mentioned I'd been studying for a year. So, he agreed to audition me. He gave me some steps to do, and I did them.
When we got into rehearsal, there truly was no role for me. Danny asked me to pick from a list of songs. He asked me, “What about ‘God Bless the Child’?” and I said, “Oh, no, I don’t want to sing ‘God Bless the Child.' Everybody sings that song. What about ‘His Eye Is On the Sparrow’?” He replied, “Vivian, you sing that in church.” What about ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’?” I said, “What about ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ and ‘His Eye Is On the Sparrow’?” He told me I could do "Sweet Georgia Brown," but not "His Eye Is On the Sparrow.” So, I relented. However, there was another song, “St. Louis Blues,” that he was throwing in there. Yet, he still kept going back to “God Bless the Child.” And I said, “Oh, for God’s sake. Just play it for me.” I didn’t like it, because it had too many jazz chords, and I was in an R&B mode.
So I offered, "Well, what if you and I rearrange it together to suit my kind of delivery?” He said, “Vivian, we can do that.” And that’s how that song got reinterpreted. Then, we were working on “Sweet Georgia Brown” one day. It was going to be sung in the bend of the piano. I suggested to the choreographer that we add some dance to it. So, it became a song and dance. It's funny: a few years later, I did the number on a TV special in Italy with an actor named Harold Williams who's gone on to star in Oz and Lost. He's now known, of course, as Harold Perrineau. People were always floored when they found out he was a fabulous dancer.
Now, you also created your character, Young Irene, in the show, right?
I created the whole role. My little character name was Marsha, but we eventually dropped that and it just became Young Irene, which was really the older lady in the show — the leading lady. I was the younger version of her.