She won the role, which ignited a love of the theater that eventually expanded to include dance. Through her high school years, she attended an arts boarding school.
"In the morning, I did academics, and in the afternoon, I danced," she said.
After school, Saffran moved to New York.
"It was always my dream to work on Broadway, and I was fortunate enough to fulfill that dream," she said. "I was able to do six Broadway shows."
Her first, however, was kind of accidental: she tagged along with a friend to an audition for "A Chorus Line."
She said, "I'd been listening to the album in my bedroom for years and I wanted to audition, but I didn't have the confidence."
Saffran said she was just going to watch, but the friend convinced her to give it a shot.
"I was fortunate enough to get the show," she said. "He, however, did not."
Saffran went on tour with the production and then went to Broadway with the show.
"I was with 'A Chorus Line' for two years," she said. "I can still do the opening combination. The choreography is still in my body."
She stayed in New York for years, but eventually left for Los Angeles when her husband, actor Matthew Ashford, got a regular spot on a soap opera. The pair raised two daughters and Saffran continued to work, doing film, stage and even a stint opening for comedian Don Rickles for his Las Vegas show.
"His manager happened to see a show I did," she said. "Opening for Don was quite an experience. He's kind of the last of those older, classic entertainers, but he was just fabulous."
Saffran said she tries to stay busy. Between engagements like the one at the Clay Center this weekend with her singing partner Norman Large, she performs on her own, as well as with a group called Broadway Today.
"We sing Broadway songs, mostly current stuff," she said.
Saffran has had a good career, with some nice accomplishments, but there's always more she'd like to do.
"I'd love to get a lead in an animated film," she said. "I've gotten close a couple of times, but not quite. I'd also love to go back to Broadway -- but maybe after the kids are grown."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.