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The Ensemblist

Author: The Ensemblist

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The Ensemblist celebrates the performances and careers of ensemble performers, recognizing the unique contributions they bring to the theatrical landscape. Thanks for eight great years of sharing the stories of Broadway’s unsung heroes!

345 Episodes
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For our third episode in this miniseries, we’re so excited to bring you a true renaissance woman in the industry. She’s been an associate to multiple Broadway choreographers, she’s been a dance captain, she’s starred in shows, and she’s also one phenomenal educator, the brilliant Lizz Picini. Currently teaching sold out classes at Broadway Dance Center, Lizz is in high demand with several other projects in the works. We’ll talk about how learning on the job has made her stronger, what insight she’s gained from being on all sides of the table, and why being present- whether that be in the audition room or on stage- is your biggest strength. All right listeners, here’s my conversation with Lizz Picini.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Karla Garcia booked her broadway debut while still a student at NYU and has continued to channel her incredible talents not just towards an impressive performing career, but also as a breakout choreographer herself. Most recently performing as a swing in Hamilton on Broadway, she’s also choreographing a brand new musical, Other World, slated for its Debut at Bucks County Playhouse in the fall of 2021. We’ll talk about what she’s learned while performing for other choreographers, how she found her own voice as a creator, and the importance of saying yes to opportunities… but we begin our conversation with how she got her start, which interestedly enough is linked to last weeks episode, choreographer Rachel Dolan.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Hey listeners, I’m Justin Mock and this is Choreographers Making Moves: a new mini-series highlighting female choreographers who are making a difference and making a name for themselves in the business. For our first episode, I spoke to someone who got her start working for Debbie Allen and has grown into a Helen Hayes nominated choreographer herself. She’s an educator, filmmaker, and most recently launched Best8BK, an organization creating dynamic, timely and socially conscious theatrical work for digital media: the outstanding Rachel Dolan.  We spoke about how she worked her way to the top, the magic of putting yourself out there— and how to be a brilliant disruptor. All right listeners, enjoy my conversation with Rachel Dolan. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Ashley Park's portrayal of the hilarious but lovable Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls earned Park nominations for seven separate theatre awards last season. But as I found out when I sat down to speak with her, those are qualities that she also portrayed in her first Broadway outing five years earlier, is an ensemble member in Mamma Mia! during the show's 12th year on Broadway. Here’s a conversation... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Hi, listeners! Enjoy this throwback to 2019 and the very first guest from our My First Time miniseries. Our first guest for this miniseries was Ben Crawford. In April 2018, he started creeping ‘round the Majestic Theatre as the title character in The Phantom of the Opera. But before headlining this show, before Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Big Fish and Shrek, he was a replacement in the first Broadway revival of Les Miserables, covering both the roles of Valjean and Javert.  We discussed making his Broadway debut, what he learned understudying two of theatre's most iconic roles and how he brought those lessons to playing the title character in Broadway's longest running show. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Michael Berresse made his Broadway debut in the 1990 revival of Fiddler on the Roof. Since then, he's performed in multiple Broadway companies, directed a Broadway musical - even performed on Broadway as the director of a Broadway musical. He currently plays Bob Mackie and Robert Altman in The Cher Show. Here's our conversation... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Todrick Hall is a trailblazer in the world of video. His work has always sought to entertain and engage, uniting his love of music, theatre and Disney with unparalleled production quality. Blasting open the possibilities of online video, he’s also created studio albums, live touring productions and award-winning music videos. But Todrick’s first love was Broadway, as is obvious from the number of times he’s trod the broads on the mainstem. Last week, he finished a run as Ogie in Waitress the musical on Broadway. But he’s also played Lola in Kinky Boots, Billy Flynn in Chicago - both here and in London. And in 2007, he made his Broadway debut in the original production of The Color Purple as a replacement in the show’s ensemble.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nobody has climbed the Broadway ladder with as comprehensively as Desi Oakley. Fresh off a run as Jenna in the national tour of Waitress, when we spoke she was starring in Chicago on Broadway as the iconic role of Roxie Hart. But that stardom comes on the heels of experience, after standing by for the role of Eva Peron on the national tour of Evita, as well as swinging two Broadway musicals: Annie and Wicked, her Broadway debut. Here’s our conversation... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Usually, our “My First Time” episodes feature Broadway stars looking back at the very first time they stepped on a Broadway stage. But on this episode we are going to hear about a series of firsts from one of the biggest hearts on Broadway, Marisha Wallace.  Since making her national tour debut in 2012 with The Book of Mormon, her career has been filled with firsts in quick succession: her Broadway debut in Aladdin in 2014, to her 2017 West End debut in Dreamgirls. She joined me in the studio during a brief stop in New York, before returning to London to play Motormouth Maybelle in the new West End revival of Hairspray. Here’s our conversation... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
No bones about it, Shoshana Bean is a force. She’s a Recording artist, having released four studio albums. She’s mastered the art of YouTube, creating and participating in striking collaborations that feature her powerful voice. A Broadway girl by heart, she’s received acclaim for her portrayal of Jenna in the Sara Bareilles musical Waitress. But before Waitress, before Beaches, before Wicked, Sho made her Broadway debut in a little show called Hairspray.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Making one’s Broadway debut is a momentous occasion for every actor lucky enough to do so. Sometimes it happens years into a long run on a seemingly ordinary Tuesday, and other times, it happens on opening night of a highly anticipated Broadway juggernaut. On this episode of My First Time, we invited Carleigh Bettiol into our virtual studio to chat about making her Broadway debut in the original cast of Hamilton in 2015. We discussed how Hamilton came into her life, her incredible memories of working on the show, and how the experience shaped her as an artist. Here’s our conversation... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
She’s defied gravity as an Elphaba standby, “werked!” as Angelica Schuyler, and controlled minds as Allison Hargreeves on Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy. But before taking on these roles, Emmy Raver-Lampman had the unique experience of performing in the ensemble of the 2010 national tour of Hair, which ending up playing a Broadway theatre the following summer. Emmy joined me in the studio to chat all about making her Broadway debut and how her experiences as an ensemblist shaped her later work as a principal. Here’s our conversation... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Today on the pod, we share part of a conversation with Octet’s Margo Seibert. In this conversation, our sister podcast Page to Stage talks to Margo about her work in the Drama Desk Award winning ensemble of Octet.  Hosted by Mary Dina and Brian Sedida, Page to Stage features excellent conversations with theatre makers. We are big fans of this up-and-coming podcast and are so grateful to them for letting us share a portion of their conversation with Margo Seibert. Enjoy! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Creating a character in a new Broadway musical is a gift for any artist, because you get to infuse the show with your own artistry. But it is the lucky few who get to create characters multiple times in multiple musicals. By originating roles in multiple musicals, they helped in a small but meaningful way to shape the legacy of musical theatre for generations to come. ...at least, that’s easy for me to say from the outside. But does it feel like that to the actors who create these ensemble roles? Do they think about the characters they create once the shows close? I posed this question to five of the most experienced and storied ensemble actors working on Broadway today before a live audience at BroadwayCon 2020. Currently performing in Broadway’s Beetlejuice, Chicago, Frozen, Hadestown and Wicked, they each shared stories about the small but mighty influence they’ve had on some of our favorite musicals. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On May 4, 2020, A Strange Loop made history as the 10th musical ever to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. And not only that, A Strange Loop is both the first musical written by a black artist, Michael R. Jackson, and the first musical without an announced Broadway run to be bestowed with this honor. A Strange Loop follows a black, queer writer creating an original musical as he faces a host of demons. When it premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in May 2019, it resonated with both audiences and critics alike, making a lasting impression on the New York theatre scene. Here to discuss his experience as an original cast member of A Strange Loop is John-Michael Lyles. Most recently, John-Michael played the role of Toby in the world premiere of Bliss at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. He contributed additional music to Second Stage Theatre’s We’re Gonna Die  and has performed Off-Broadway in Sweeney Todd, This Ain’t No Disco, and The Flick, among others. Here’s our conversation… Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Developing a character based on a real person is a challenge for any actor, in part because whether or not the audience is familiar with that person you want to make sure the role feels authentic to the people that know them. Such is the case in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, where much of the ensemble takes on people in the life of the titular music icon.  One of those actors is Jessica Rush, who plays the featured role of Rhonda Graam. Rhonda has been friends with Tina for more than 50 years, starting as the road manager for her and Ike Turner. Over the decades, they became close professionally and personally. So how does Rush, a veteran of six Broadway musicals over the last decade, take half a century of life and turn it into a small but featured character? Here’s our conversation... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jennifer Smith is a legend of the Broadway stage. In the last 35 years, she originated and understudies more than 40 roles on Broadway. Back in 2016, she joined Ensemblist co-creator Nikka Graff Lanzarone and I in the studio to talk about creating ensemble roles in four of her Broadway shows: Tuck Everlasting, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, The Producers and Victor/Victoria. Here’s our conversation... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jill Abramovitz slayed Beetlejuice audiences in her duel roles of Maxine Dean and Juno. She’s so incredible that we here at The Ensemblist bestowed her one of our first ever Season Standout awards. We asked this veteran of Broadway’s Cinderella and 9 to 5 into the studio to talk about how she developed those roles into some of the funniest moments in what is already a very funny show. Here’s our conversation… Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Lightning Thief employs a cast of seven actors to bring the story of Percy Jackson on stage. Much of the show’s small cast is tasked with creating multiple characters, none more than actors Ryan Knowles. Using a versus title facility of voice and movement, he creates strikingly specific characters over and over in the show, including Charon, Hades and many many more. Here’s our conversation… Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Today’s guest knows a thing or three about covering roles of Broadway. Those three specific things are Otho, Adam and Beetlejuice - all roles he covers in his duties as a swing at the Winter Garden Theatre. Beetlejuice isn’t his first foray into covering leading roles either; He’s been a standby on The Book of Mormon, School of Rock, and understudied Michael Urie in last season’s Torch Song. I wanted to know how he manages to standby for such grueling characters, both living and undead. Here’s our conversation...  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Mar 23rd
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