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Rank #113 in Performing Arts category

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Performing Arts

The Ensemblist

Updated 14 days ago

Rank #113 in Performing Arts category

Arts
Performing Arts
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The Ensemblist is the online advocate for the talent artists working in theatre ensembles. Through our podcast, website and social presence we are creating conversation what it means to be a successful artist in the theatre. Each of our miniseries highlights a conversation that effects performers in Broadway ensembles, with experts on the topic sharing their insights in candid interviews. The Ensemblist podcast has more than 1.6 million podcast downloads and was recently named one of the Top 50 Best Selling Performing Arts Podcasts of all time.

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The Ensemblist is the online advocate for the talent artists working in theatre ensembles. Through our podcast, website and social presence we are creating conversation what it means to be a successful artist in the theatre. Each of our miniseries highlights a conversation that effects performers in Broadway ensembles, with experts on the topic sharing their insights in candid interviews. The Ensemblist podcast has more than 1.6 million podcast downloads and was recently named one of the Top 50 Best Selling Performing Arts Podcasts of all time.

iTunes Ratings

352 Ratings
Average Ratings
329
16
5
1
1

SMASH recaps

By Quarantined in NYC - Mar 28 2020
Read more
SMASH recaps are irreverent, fun, and spot on! You MUST continue them for Season Two!

So good!

By ccm2006 - Oct 14 2019
Read more
The Way Down Hadestown series was so good!!!

iTunes Ratings

352 Ratings
Average Ratings
329
16
5
1
1

SMASH recaps

By Quarantined in NYC - Mar 28 2020
Read more
SMASH recaps are irreverent, fun, and spot on! You MUST continue them for Season Two!

So good!

By ccm2006 - Oct 14 2019
Read more
The Way Down Hadestown series was so good!!!
Cover image of The Ensemblist

The Ensemblist

Latest release on Nov 20, 2020

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The Ensemblist is the online advocate for the talent artists working in theatre ensembles. Through our podcast, website and social presence we are creating conversation what it means to be a successful artist in the theatre. Each of our miniseries highlights a conversation that effects performers in Broadway ensembles, with experts on the topic sharing their insights in candid interviews. The Ensemblist podcast has more than 1.6 million podcast downloads and was recently named one of the Top 50 Best Selling Performing Arts Podcasts of all time.

Rank #1: #275 - I'm Still Here (feat. E. Clayton Cornelious)

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Today’s episode guest has indeed run the gamut, A to Z. E. Clayton Cornelious has graced the boards of Broadway an unbelievable eight times during the twenty years since his debut. The show then was Disney’s The Lion King, and today this Broadway ensemblist is bringing to life the electrifying story of The Temptations in Ain’t Too Proud

Throughout the years his career has span the gamut, performing in everything from The Scottsboro Boys to A Chorus Line. And in addition to his work onstage, he is a producer and investor on shows including Caroline, or Change and Hadestown.

E. Clayton joined me over the phone to discuss how he keeps the momentum moving forward in his career, as well as how it is never too late to learn something new. Here’s our conversation…

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Apr 22 2020

24mins

Play

Rank #2: #174 - Way Down Hadestown (feat. Timothy Hughes)

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Over the next five weeks, you’ll hear one at a time from the complete ensemble of the newest Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Hadestown, about the characters they’ve created and the careers that got them there.

Timothy Hughes made his Broadway debut in the 2012 production of Chaplin. However, he is probably best known for his role of Strong Man in the film The Greatest Showman and creating the role of Pabbie in the Broadway musical Frozen. In Hadestown, he plays Worker #5 and covers the role of Hades. Here's our conversation...

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Jul 29 2019

18mins

Play

Rank #3: #186 - Hurt and Healing (feat. Caissie Levy)

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As performers, our bodies are our instruments. We use our physical beings to create sounds, embody characters and tell stories. So when that physical instrument is suffering, how does that affect a performers’ artistry? And, perhaps more importantly, what does it do to a performer’s psyche when they aren’t able to work to the best of their abilities.

That’s a conversation I wanted to explore in this new mini-series Hurt and Healed: an honest look into actors’ injuries, recoveries and the stigma that comes from not being able to be your best onstage.

There is not a theatre performer who leads with more grace than Caissie Levy. Yes, she’s played some of the most iconic roles in Broadway history - from Elphaba in Wicked to Fantine in Les Miserables - but she’s also a warm soul that pulses with kindness.

...it’s probably because she’s Canadian, eh?

Recently, Caissie (who currently leads the Broadway cast of Frozen as Elsa, opened up on social media about a vocal fold injury she incurred during a decade ago, how she worked towards recovery and the stigma she still sometimes endures as a result. Here’s our conversation...

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Sep 09 2019

21mins

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Rank #4: #156 - My First Time (feat. Ashley Park)

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If there was a breakout star from last year‘s Broadway season, it would undeniably be Ashley Park. Her 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...

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May 23 2019

16mins

Play

Rank #5: #213 - Touring Broadway (feat. Josh Burrage)

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First National Tours are one of the most important calling cards for the Broadway community. Staged in New York City to cross the country, these facsimiles of Broadway shows bring the experience of attending a Mainstem musical to theatrelovers across the country. But how similar are these touring productions to their Broadway counterparts? And what’s the experience for performers who pick up their lives to travel the country in one of the casts?

Joshua Michael Burrage has performed with not one, but two first national tours: Newsies and A Bronx Tale The Musical. In between, he made his Broadway debut in the recent revival of Cats. I asked him into the studio to talk about those two tours, and how those experiences differed from performing on the Great White Way. Here’s our conversation...

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Dec 12 2019

19mins

Play

Rank #6: #200 - Smash'ed (Episode 1)

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The first episode of Smash is aptly named, “Pilot.” The episode premiered on February 6th, 2012. It was written by the show’s creator Theresa Rebeck, and directed by Michael Mayer. The pilot premiered to an audience of 11.44 million people! This episode featured seven songs, three of which were original songs written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman: “Never Give All the Heart,” “The National Pastime,” and the show’s anthem “Let Me Be Your Star.” The other four were covers of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” “I Wanna Be Loved By You,” “Beautiful,” and “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” 

We fade in on a girl with a hunger for fame and a face and a name to remember. That face is Katharine McPhee and that name is Karen Cartwright. She’s singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” in an audition.

A team of writers Tom Levitt and Julia Houston are tipped off to a subject for a new musical by their assistant Ellis. Ellis says “I think (Marilyn Monroe) would make a good musical.” Julia is intrigued by Marilyn as a subject, saying “There’s just something about (Marilyn). How much she loved and wanted to be loved.” So the team gets to work on a demo, bringing in Ivy Smith to record the song.

Ivy is currently an ensemblist in Tom Levitt’s Broadway production Heaven on Earth, but she confides to him that “You know I love the show. I love you.” Tom: “The ensemble not so much.” Ivy: “I just want a part.”

After THREE commercial breaks, we meet Anjelica Houston as Eileen Rand, who wants the project and wants to connect them with a hot-tempered director Derek Wills. They all agree to set aside their differences, in part due to a specularly staged number on spec called “The National Pastime.” 

Karen turns a remarkable audition for Marilyn, singing Smash’s first pop cover: “Beautiful” by Christina Aguleria. Derek is intrigued enough to invite Karen over to his apartment under the pretence of a private coaching session. She keeps Derek at arm’s length , and the episode ends with both Karen and Ivy vying to “Let Me Be Your Star.”

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Oct 28 2019

18mins

Play

Rank #7: #286 - Smash'ed (Season 2, Episode 2)

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“The Fallout” premiered on February 5th, 2013, immediately after the premiere episode. (Aww, remember those two-hour premieres that networks used to do back in the day, Mo?) It was written by Julie Rottenberg & Elisa Zuritsky, whose previous work we saw in the season 1 episodes “Let’s Be Bad” and “The Movie Star,” and was directed by Craig Zisk. Now, here’s a weird thing: viewership for this episode was 4.45 million, down from 4.48 in the previous episode WHICH WAS AN HOUR AGO. I guess 30,000 people collectively turned off their TVs after hour 1?

We had three featured songs in this episode: one cover of the Eurythmics’ “Would I Lie To You?” And two original songs by two different musical theatre composers: the first by then-up-and-comer duo team Pasek & Paul called “Caught in the Storm” sung by Katherine McPhee, and the second by our home team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman called “They Just Keep Moving the Line” sung by Megan Hilty.

Eileen summons her bruised songwriting team to attend the American Theatre Wing gala, but Julia can barely get out the door let alone put on cocktail attire. But Julia heard from Mary Testa who heard from Jackie Hoffman who heard from Cheyenne Jackson who heard from Harvey Fierstein that she and Julia would be presenting at the gala (a lie that Tom made you on the street). 

In addition to Bombshell being put on ice, Derek gets fired from The Wiz - not only because he shagged a couple of actresses but the five dancers are accusing him of sexual harassment. One of them, Daisy, serves Derek the T in front of Schnippers, saying “You don’t get it. You’re a big shot Director. You’re in a position of power from the mind you wake up in the morning and you don’t treat that power with respect.” Derek second guesses his serial seducing in a dream sequence set to the Eurythmics' “Would I Lie To You?”

Ivy is considering leaving the business, as she’s going in for parts that she would have passed on two years ago. But running into a drunken Derek on a stoop, he leaves her with one nugget of wisdom: “You weren’t my Marilyn, but what do I know?”

Karen Cartwright hunts down the young and unknown composing team. Half of the team, a twink named Kyle, is eager to collab with Karen. But while his songwriting partner Jimmy is cute enough to go to Greenpoint for, he is anything but agreeable. Even her attempts to wow Jimmy with an impromptu performance of one of his songs drives him away. Jimmy retorts that he doesn’t need help to make it big, but decides the next day that he’ll give it a go with Karen for Kyle’s sake. 

The American Theatre Wing gala becomes an embarrassment for the Bombshell crew, when Tom gets caught in his lie about presenting and Eileen is asked to leave by the League president. But she decides to leave the industry with a parting shot to remember: an announcement that Bombshell is coming to Broadway this season followed by Ivy Lynn giving a stunning rendition of a never-before-heard tune called “They Just Keep Moving The Line.”

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May 08 2020

23mins

Play

Rank #8: #253 - The History of the Ensemble (feat. Jennifer Ashley Tepper)

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Here at The Ensemblist, we have always striven to celebrate the hard work and passion of Broadway ensemblists. And in our second full season, which first aired in 2016, our co-creator Nikka Graff Lanzarone and I took a journey through Broadway’s past to learn about its future. We explored how the ensemblist experience has changed and been changed by some of the theatre’s most influential shows, writers, and subject matter. And so in this new mini-series, I will be sharing some of the best moments from that mini-series we made four years ago.

Our plan is to release these re-edited versions from our season on The History of The Ensemble once a week for the next five weeks, so stay tuned for our episode on South Pacific in your podcast feeds next week.

Thank you to Jennifer Ashley Tepper for allowing us to reshare her stories with us this week.

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Mar 26 2020

8mins

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Rank #9: #138 - My First Time (feat. Ben Crawford)

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Our first guest for this new miniseries is Ben Crawford. Since April 2018, he’s been 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. 

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Feb 25 2019

14mins

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Rank #10: #271 - Creativity in Coronavirus (feat. Ben Cook)

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One thing that has become clear about the Coronavirus pandemic is that it's not a sprint, but a marathon. We will be in this holding pattern for weeks in not months where live performance can not happen in ways we are used to. And so I've been particularly intrigued by artists that are finding new ways to connect with each other during this time.

Ben Cook (Mean Girls, Tuck Everlasting) along with his Newsies castmate Dan DeLuca have created a "Mindfulness in the Arts" training course that launches this Friday, April 17. Ben joined me over the phone to tell me how his mindfulness practice began and how other artists can join he and Dan on this journey. Here's our conversation...

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Apr 16 2020

15mins

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Rank #11: #283 - Seeking Representation (feat. Julian DeGuzman)

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There has been no seismic shift in the number of actors of color performing on Broadway. Yes, systematic change often comes with incremental progress. However, the recent crop of Broadway musicals seem to provide few examples of such change. I’ve been curious what that feels like for artists of color, so I asked a few into the studio to share their experiences with racial representation in the theatre industry.

Julian DeGuzman has spent the last decade performing in shows that both feature primarily Asian-American casts (Broadway's Miss Saigon) as well as more multi-cultural companies (Newsies, Hello, Dolly! on Tour. He joined me over the phone to talk about how each of those experiences have felt different for him. Here's our conversation...

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May 05 2020

20mins

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Rank #12: #141 - My First Time (feat. Michael Berresse)

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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...

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Mar 25 2019

24mins

Play

Rank #13: #216 - Touring Broadway (feat. Sabrina Imamura)

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First National Tours are one of the most important calling cards for the Broadway community. Staged in New York City to cross the country, these facsimiles of Broadway shows bring the experience of attending a Mainstem musical to theatrelovers across the country. But how similar are these touring productions to their Broadway counterparts? And what’s the experience for performers who pick up their lives to travel the country in one of the casts?

Sabrina Imamura opened the first national tour of Hamilton in early 2017. Performing in the show’s ensemble took her along the West coast for about a year and a half before Broadway called, where she’s been in the show’s Mainstem ensemble since mid-2018. I asked her into the studio to tell about how performing in two productions differed, both onstage and off. Here’s our conversation...

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Dec 23 2019

19mins

Play

Rank #14: #219 - Waitress (feat. Shoshana Bean, Molly Hager, Todrick Hall and Jessie Hooker-Bailey)

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On January 5, 2020, Broadway will dim the lights on one of its most delicious confections: Waitress. During its more than four years and 1,544 regular performances on Broadway, The Ensemblist has shared many stories from its talented company. We share with you today two completely new stories from to podcast as well as some of our favorite Waitress audio from the past year.

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Jan 02 2020

22mins

Play

Rank #15: #162 - Let's Talk About Auditions (feat. Spencer Liff)

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Welcome to a new mini-series from The Ensemblist where I sit down with folks on the other side of the casting table to ask them what they’re really looking for in a Broadway ensemble. As performers, we hear time and again that the folks casting shows want auditioners to succeed. But what does that success actually look like? 

Spencer Liff began his Broadway career as a dancer, performing in the original companies of Big, The Wedding Singer and Cry-Baby. But for the last ten years, Liff has worked on the other side of the table creating staging for both stage and screen. He’s an Emmy nominee for his work on “So You Think You Can Dance” where he has been a resident choreographer for a decade. Back on Broadway, he’s created the staging for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Spring Awakening, Falsettos and Head Over Heels. 

I recently was able to speak with him on a short trip to New York where he was here casting a new workshop of Reefer Madness. Here’s our conversation…

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Jun 13 2019

18mins

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Rank #16: #230 - Seeking Representation (feat. Aisha Jackson)

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Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Aisha Jackson has been a constant presence on Broadway stages for the last five years. Starting as a swing on Beautiful and then creating one of the ensemble tracks in Waitress, this month she finishes her run as the Anna standby in Frozen on Broadway. She joined me in the studio to talk about her experiences as an actress of color, particularly in taking on characters created by her cauasian counterparts. Here’s our conversation...

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Feb 10 2020

17mins

Play

Rank #17: #244 - Coronavirus Shutdown (Come From Away Tour, feat. Jane Bunting)

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow, we are speaking with performing arts around the country about how the shutdown of theatre performances continues to affect their lives and work.

Today, we speak with Jane Bunting, who was in Dallas performing with the national tour of Come From Away until performances were cancelled on Thursday. Here's our conversation...

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Mar 17 2020

11mins

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Rank #18: #247 - Smash'ed (Episode 11)

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“The Movie Star” premiered on April 16, 2012. It was written by Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky, and directed by Tricia Brock. Again, shout-out to an all-female team! The episode was viewed by 5.95 million viewers. Down again, man.

This episode had three featured songs total, though one could argue that that spoken-word version of “Let Me Be Your Star” should count for half! Wow. The other two were one original song by Shaiman and Whitman called “Dig Deep,” and a cover of “Our Day Will Come” by Ruby & the Romantics.

Everyone in the Bombshell rehearsal room is abuzz about movie star Rebecca Duvall, especially her new understudy Karen Cartwright. But as the company sits in her first sing through of “Let Me Be Your Star,” they realize she’s not a vocalist like Karen or Ivy Lynn. You see, “Everyone said she could sing,” but nobody on Bombshell bothered to check first hand. Eileen asks Derek, Tom and Julia to come up with “constructive solutions.” Derek advocates for bringing Ivy back into the show, just in case they need her. 

All that Karen can wonder is what Ivy’s return means for her. But once Rebecca showcases her ineptitude, Ivy and Karen begin to conspire together. Ivy teases Karen, prodding her that “you’re counting the minutes until she implodes, and if you’re not you’re in the wrong business.”

Rebecca Duvall confides in Derek that she wishes Bombshell could delve into the story of Marilyn with “a little less singing and dancing.” The writers try adding in a short scene for her at the Actors Studio, but she is still perplexed by the idea that a character would break into song. Eileen advocates for Rebecca, demanding a new “extra long scene” for her Marilyn. 

Eileen imparts an old adage to assistant Ellis, “Keep your friends close, celebrities closer, and their assistants even closer still.” For Eileen, this includes Rebecca Duvall and her many, many, many ideas for script revisions. But in a late night work session with the creative team, Rebecca turns out to be surprisingly candid about her own limitations, asking for keys to be lowered and ballads to be cut. Based on the collegial session, there’s a new jazzy version of “Dig Deep” added that references Stanislavsky, childhood drama and Sigmund Freud.

At a screening of Rebecca Duvall’s new movie, Ivy and Karen talk about their hot-headed boyfriends and catch each other sneaking out of the boring movie. They share a laugh followed by Ivy announcing “She’s annoying. She stole our part. We hate her. Let’s go drinking.” After a few, Ivy tells Karen “When Rebecca Duvall goes down, everything’s up for grabs. You’re going to have to pry that part of my cold dead hands.”

In other news, Julia and her separated husband Frank come together to get their son to improve in calculus. Ellis gets caught trying to pull one over on Rebecca Duvall’s assistant. And Tom’s date with “chorus crush” Sam stops short of physical intimacy because “he’s old-fashioned and believes in God.”

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Mar 20 2020

20mins

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Rank #19: #262 - My Favorite Musical (A Chorus Line, feat. Nikka Graff Lanzarone)

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There's a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, but one thing that is for certain is that musicals unite us. Somehow, the alchemy that is a musical can help us feel seen, heard and valued. So we here at The Ensemblist are creating some comfort food for uncomfortable times - taking to some of our favorite musical theatre performers about their favorite musicals.

We couldn't think of a better person to launch this mini-series with than our co-creator Nikka Graff Lanzarone. She joined me over the phone from her home in Brooklyn to talk about her favorite musical, the 1975 seminal hit A Chorus Line. Here's our conversation...

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Apr 06 2020

17mins

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Rank #20: #265 - Broadway Shutdown (Beetlejuice, feat. Elliott Mattox)

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Just yesterday, the Broadway League announced an extension of its shutdown through June 7. One of the causalities of this is Beetlejuice, which was scheduled to close June 6. That disappointing news means that the production has already played its last performance on Tuesday, March 11.

Cast member Elliott Mattox was gracious enough to join me on the phone to talk about how he heard the news and how he is grieving a show he didn't realize has already ended. Here's our conversation...

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Apr 09 2020

13mins

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#423 - Creativity in Coronavirus (Fosters Residency - feat. Jason A. Sparks)

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In the wake of COVID-19, never has it been more time-sensitive than to provide a virtual home and community for creatively displaced theatrical artists and creators.

In this edition, we spoke with award winning Director and Choreographer Jason A. Sparks, President and Theatrical Director of Fosters Theatrical Artist Residency. Fosters is a new nonprofit organization designed to support and nurture artists and their new theatrical works to their truest, greatest potential. 

Special thanks to Jason A. Sparks for opening up about Fosters Theatrical Artist Residency. If you would like more information, please visit FostersResidency.org.

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Nov 20 2020

22mins

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#422 - Sentimental Men (feat. Stephanie Torns)

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Although many of us may be inclined to skip the song “A Sentimental Man” on the Wicked cast recording, keep your thumb away from that skip button. Kevin Bianchi and Quincy Brown have launched SENTIMENTAL MEN, a new interview-based podcast about musical theatre and the women who make it wonderful. 

In their premiere season, Quincy and Kevin are taking a deep dive into the musical Wicked from Elphaba’s point of view, joined by a different actress who has performed the role in each episode. There are currently five episodes available for streaming, featuring conversations with actresses such as Lindsay Pearce, Caroline Bowman and this one, with longtime Wicked ensemble member and Elphaba understudy Stephanie Torns.

New episodes are scheduled to be released every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and most major platforms. For more information, you can find them on social @sentmenpod or email them at sentimentalmenpod@gmail.com.

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Nov 19 2020

17mins

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#421 - The Art of the Pivot (TheatreMakers Conference - feat. Asmeret Ghebremichael, Stephanie Klemons, Steve Rosen, Luis Salgado)

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Last weekend, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel at the 2020 TheaterMakers’ Summit about “The Art of the Pivot.” In it, I spoke to four titans of the American musical theatre about their love for theatre, how that love was satisfied as a performer and how they’ve pivoted that love into a different mode of creation. Please enjoy a portion of that conversation, with Asmeret Ghebremichael, Stephanie Klemons, Steve Rosen and Luis Salgado.

Special thanks to Ken Davenport, Mary Dina and the team at TheaterMakers Summit 2020 for allowing us to share a portion of the conversation with you. To hear this full panel, as well as dozens of others you can still gain access to the summit at TheTheaterMakersStudio.com.

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Nov 18 2020

19mins

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#420 - Fosse/Verdon (Episode 3)

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“Me and My Baby” premiered on April 23rd, 2019. It was written by Debora Cahn, and directed by Adam Bernstein. In this episode we are treated to our first numbers not originally choreographed by Bob Fosse: the opening dream sequence to “Wilkommen” and the Jack Cole revue number, both choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler. Portraying a bevy of beautiful secretaries are Mackenzie Bell, Anna Noble, Sam Farrow, Mindy Wallace and sisters Leigh-Ann and Sara Esty. In a flashback to Gwen’s early career in Los Angeles, we also see a quintet of Broadway’s best: Adrian Lee, Ricky Ubeda, Ryan Steele and Reed Luplau, all centered around the flawless Eliza Ohman. 

While the titular song from Chicago does not appear in the episode, the featured music that does all comes from the musical Cabaret, with music and lyrics by Kander & Ebb. We are treated to Ethan Slater portraying the legendary Joel Grey in “Wilkommen” and “Two Ladies” accompanied audibly by Alysha Umphress and Morgan Weed, and visually by Lindsay Dunn and Kaitlyn Edgar, as well as footage of Kelli Barrett singing “Mein Herr” from a previous episode.

Bob ends his vacation early to begin the editing process of the Cabaret film, but is not happy to find that the editing team has already created an “unwatchable” rough cut that makes him feel like the world is falling apart. Bouncing into Gwen’s apartment with Chinese food, he asks Gwen to join him in the editing room because he’s “feeling a little lost right now.” However, Gwen isn’t available to assist Bob because she’s going to be in rehearsals for a play - a straight play - called Children! Children! 

The two play power struggle with their daughter Nicole, both claiming that they can’t be responsible for her while they are working. When Gwen passes her off to Bob for a dinner meeting with her manager Mel, Bob passes her off to his friend Paddy. When Gwen finds out, she explodes at Bob who considers watching his own daughter a favor.

Being taken advantage of by Bob reminds Gwen of her teenage self living in Culver City, California, when caught the eye of James Henaghen, a prominent theatre critic who rapes, impregates and then agrees to marry the young Verdon. Filling in for her deadbeat husband, he reviews a performance of the Jack Cole dancers and realizes she needs to perform for him, leaving her bastard infant son with her parents to go on tour.

In addition to playing wife and mother to Bob, the writers of Children! Children! want Gwen, two-time Tony Award winner, to audition for the role. She pretends to love the audition process: “it’s like a first date with a new crush,” and gets the part, although Mel confides in her that she was “not everyone’s first choice.” In rehearsal Gwen gets singled out with more notes and adjustments than she’s used to, a sharp juxtaposition to how she was lauded for her performance in Can Can. Feeling inept at her work in the rehearsal room, Gwen offers her services in Bob’s editing bay where she is subservient but shines.

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Nov 17 2020

25mins

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#419 - The Original Interview (feat. Krysta Rodriguez)

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This month, we’re digging deep into The Ensemblist archives to share highlights from some of our favorite interviews from our early days. On this episode, we’re revisiting our 2015 interview with Krysta Rodriguez. In 2006, Krysta performed in the ensemble of the original Broadway production of Spring Awakening, understudying four principal roles. 9 years later, she took on Ilse, one of the roles she previously understudied, in the show’s Broadway revival. In our conversation, Krysta chats all about how the two productions differed, why she wanted to revisit the material, and how she approached the role differently her second time around.


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Nov 16 2020

22mins

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#147 - Fosse/Verdon (Episode 2 feat. Ryan VanDenBoom)

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There isn’t a theatre choreographer more associated with their own unique style than Bob Fosse. The infamous Oscar-, Emmy- and Tony-winning director and choreographer created his own signature technique that distinguished shows like Chicago, Pippin, and Damn Yankees into dance masterpieces. This April, FX launches a new limited television series Fosse/Verdon, based on the 2013 biography by Sam Wesson with a focus on his marriage and collaboration with Gwen Verdon. 

The second episode focuses on the creation of Damn Yankees, from rehearsals in New York to its out of town tryout in New Haven, CT. In the episode, Fosse inserts a mambo-inspired dance duet called “Who’s Got The Pain?” into the show to showcase Verdon and a dancer named Eddie Phillips, played by this week’s guest Ryan VanDenBoom. A veteran of Broadway’s Bandstand, Ryan VanDenBoom has performed on screen before as a sailor in the Channing Tatum-led film Hail, Caesar!. In Fosse/Verdon, he has one of the series’ largest dance features. Here's our conversation...

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Nov 14 2020

21mins

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#418 - The Lion King (feat. Rosie Lani Fiedelman, Blake Hammond, Kimberly Marable, Arbender Robinson, L. Steven Taylor)

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On November 13, 1997, 23 years ago today, Disney Theatrical Productions opened The Lion King at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre. It was a smash hit, winning six Tony Awards, leading to numerous productions all over the world, and becoming the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time. The Lion King is currently the third longest-running Broadway show and has dazzled audiences for an impressive 9,302 performances and counting. 

Although performances are currently paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic, several of The Lion King’s beloved cast members are joining us to share some of their favorite memories of working on the show. These pieces were originally shared on our blog to celebrate The Lion King’s 20th anniversary in 2017. Here, in their own words, are Rosie Lani Fiedelman, Blake Hammond, Kimberly Marable, Arbender Robinson & L. Steven Taylor:

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Nov 13 2020

25mins

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#417 - The Original Interview (feat. Harvey Evans)

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Over the next six weeks, we’re digging deep into The Ensemblist archives to share highlights from some of our favorite interviews from our early days. This week, we’re revisiting our 2013 conversation with Harvey Evans. We chat all about the tradition of the Legacy Robe, the history, the ceremony, Harvey’s memories from the two shows he received it for, and so much more. 

Please note that when this interview was recorded, the Legacy Robe was known as the Gypsy Robe. The name was changed in 2018, because of the insensitive nature of its previous title.

Here’s our conversation...

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Nov 12 2020

23mins

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#416 - Creativity in Coronavirus (One Million Musicals, feat. Alan Blake Bachelor, Jacob Ben-Shmuel)

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In the wake of this pandemic that has altered the face and shape of how we consume so much popular media, particularly when it comes to musical theatre, we’re spotlighting One Million Musicals.

Created by Jacob Ben-Shmuel and Alan Blake Bachelor, One Million Musicals is an ambitious, independent endeavor to produce - you guessed it - ONE MILLION high quality musicals to the podcasting space. With a team of artistic collaborators, not to mention many notable swings and ensemblists from Broadway, Jacob and Alan drop a new podcast with an entirely original story and set of songs and characters every month.

To explain the creation and execution of One Million Musicals in their own words, here is our interview with Jacob and Alan.

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Nov 11 2020

25mins

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#415 - Fosse/Verdon (Episode 2)

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“Who’s Got the Pain” premiered on April 16th, 2019. Like the pilot, it was written by Steven Levenson, and directed by Tommy Kail. As always, the numbers featured in the episodes were choreographed by Bob Fosse himself, but were reconstructed by members of his artistic progeny: Dana Moore recreated the choreography to “Who’s Got the Pain” and “Whatever Lola Wants,” and Lloyd Culbreath recreated the choreo and rehearsal staging for “Two Lost Souls.” All the featured songs in the episode, including “Heart” in addition to those previously mentioned, are all from the musical “Damn Yankees,” with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.

Featured in the rehearsing cast of Damn Yankees are a legion of Broadway vets, including Ryan Vandenboom, Kyle Brown, Darien Crago, Haley Fish, Shonica Gooden, Afra Hines, Evan Kasprzak and Adrian Lee. Rounding out the cast performing “Heart” are also Broadway’s PJ Benjamin, Brain Cali, Nick Blaemire, and Aaron Kaburick.

The viewership for this episode was down from last week all across the board, with a live viewership at 425,000, and a DVR viewership of 597,000. The total viewership was 1.023 million, down 321,000 from the premiere. At least its still in the millions though!

During production of the film of Cabaret, Joan Simon is so glad that Gwen and Bobby have escaped to Majorca with them for some time away together. But Gwen has been burned by Bob one too many times - cheated on so often that she practically has a script in place for how he will apologize. He doesn’t see why he shouldn’t be able to see his German translator on set and then come home to Gwen, and offers that she should be able to do the same. But Gwen isn’t the cheating type. Or at least, she isn’t now.

We flash back to 1955, when Gwen learns that her new Broadway musical, a baseball-themed show called Damn Yankees will be choreographed by a young talent named Bobby Fosse. She’s concerned that he won’t be dark enough for this modern-day Faust, but the producer promises her there is a real sense of humor in his work. Gwen swallows her pride and agrees to a work session with the young upstart. After making small talk about each other’s significant others, Bob begins to teach Gwen the seductive steps to “Whatever Lola Wants.” They bond over witty banter and their childhoods working in burlesque houses and Gwen - obviously - lands the job.

The new team quickly begins seducing each other in the rehearsal room as well as in the bedroom, until it becomes too complicated for Gwen to be fooling around with her choreographer behind the back of his ailing wife. Things get more complicated when the Damn Yankees producers threaten to cut Bob’s Act I finale because it isn’t landing with audiences. Knowing he has to prove himself to both the creatives and the critics, he wakes up Gwen in the middle of the night and takes them both away from their respective spouses to get to work on a new number.

Working through the night, Bob and Gwen are out of ideas. That is, until the pianist suggests a silly mambo and Bob realizes that the lighthearted number can be a cover for characters in agony. And with that, “Who’s Got the Pain?” is born. But while Bob is solving problems onstage and making a name for himself with Gwen as his new muse, Bob’s current wife Joan McCracken lets Gwen know that this scene has been played out before - when Bob left his first wife for Joan.

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Nov 10 2020

27mins

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#414 - Singular Sensation (feat. Michael Riedel)

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Famed New York Post columnist Michael Riedel has released a new book - Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway. The book gives an inside look into the biggest stories on Broadway from the 1990s to the early 2000s: Rent, The Lion King, Sunset Boulevard, Titanic, Chicago and The Producers to name a few. We spoke this week about what makes a great theatre story and why he loves shining insight into the Broadway lore we think we knew.

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Nov 09 2020

21mins

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#146 - Fosse/Verdon (Episode 1 feat. Skye Mattox)

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There isn’t a theatre choreographer more associated with their own unique style than Bob Fosse. The infamous Oscar-, Emmy- and Tony-winning director and choreographer created his own signature technique that distinguished shows like Chicago, Pippin, and Damn Yankees into dance masterpieces. This April, FX launches a new limited television series Fosse/Verdon, based on the 2013 biography by Sam Wesson with a focus on his marriage and collaboration with Gwen Verdon. 

In the first episode of the TV miniseries, we meet Fosse and Verdon on the set of the film version of Sweet Charity. The episode then transfers locations to Munich, Germany where Fosse and Verdon work together to turn Cabaret into one of the most seminila movie musicals in the history of film. Performing “Mein Herr” are a quartet of Broadway dancers including this episode’s guest, Skye Mattox.

Skye Mattox made her Broadway debut as replacement in the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story. Since then, she performed in Broadway’s revivals of On The Town and Carousel, the later for which she was nominated for a Chita Rivera Award. She’s also no stranger to bringing musical drama to the small screen: Skye and I first worked together during the winter 2013 on the second season of NBC’s Smash. Here’s our conversation...

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Nov 07 2020

24mins

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#142 - Fosse/Verdon (feat. Morgan Marcell)

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There isn’t a theatre choreographer more associated with their own unique style than Bob Fosse. The infamous Oscar-, Emmy- and Tony-winning director and choreographer created his own signature technique that distinguished shows like Chicago, Pippin, and Damn Yankees into dance masterpieces. This April, FX launches a new limited television series Fosse/Verdon, based on the 2013 biography by Sam Wesson with a focus on his marriage and collaboration with Gwen Verdon. 

Here on The Ensemblist, we are also taking the opportunity to speak to some of the Broadway ensemblists who are working on the series. First up is Hamilton and Bandstand's, Morgan Marcell, who worked as an associate choreographer on the series in addition to appearing on camera in three episodes.

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Nov 06 2020

24mins

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#413 - Black Hair in the Big Leagues (feat. Salisha Thomas)

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Today we chat with Salisha Thomas, a five-year veteran of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical about her new podcast: Black Hair in the Big Leagues. We discuss the dressing room stories her interviews feature and why hair is such an important part of her story.

Listen to Black Hair in the Big Leagues here: https://broadwaypodcastnetwork.com/podcast/black-hair-in-the-big-leagues/

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Nov 05 2020

15mins

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#412 - The Line (A Chorus Line - feat. Francine Espiritu)

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A Chorus Line changed everything. It’s a statement theatre lovers have heard time and again. But until this exploration into the proliferation of the line as a theatrical device in musical theatre, I never really understood the depth of what A Chorus Line changed.

For the layman, it was the first time in years that a Broadway musical reached the greater cultural conversation. Musical theatre had drifted from the zeitgeist after decades of leading the entertainment industry, but here it was back and in charge.

For the theatre aficionados, it was the first Broadway musical to run longer than a decade. For comparison, prior to Broadway’s shutdown there were four musicals running that had opened more than ten years ago. 

But for theatre artisans, A Chorus Line was the first big musical without a separation between principals and chorus. In A Chorus Line, every character was named and given a point of view - not only in the staging but in the script itself. It’s a popular device now, but it shook theatre artists to their core because it meant that what they knew to be true about live theatre was finally being shared with audiences; that every company member makes an important contribution to the success or failure of a musical.

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Nov 04 2020

20mins

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#411 - Fosse/Verdon (Episode 1)

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“Life is a Cabaret” premiered on April 9th, 2019. It was written by Steven Levenson, and directed by Thomas Kail; uniquely for this episode, the show credited Both Mssrs. Levenson and Kail with creating the story, but only one of them for writing the actual teleplay. The two group numbers we saw, “Mein Herr” and “Big Spender,” were both originally choreographed by Bob Fosse, but were reconstructed by Valarie Pettiford and Dana Moore, respectively. Something fun for these modern TV shows: the viewership is now able to be tracked separately between live viewers and viewers who watch on DVR. For this pilot episode, the live viewership was .614 million and the DVR viewership was .729 million, bringing the total viewership to 1.344 million.

We heard five featured songs in this premiere. The two songs from Sweet Charity, “Big Spender” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” were both written by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields. While the latter was an excerpt from the original recording, “Big Spender” was performed and sung by Bianca Marroquin and the Fandango girls. Also included in this episode were songs from Cabaret, all written by John Kander and Fred Ebb: “Wilkommen” which was a recording, as well as “Mein Herr” and the title song “Cabaret,” both performed by Kelli Barrett.

The limited series begins in Hollywood, with 19 years left in the illustrious life and career of Bob Fosse. With his wife and muse Gwen Verdon at his side, he is setting up shots for the song “Big Spender” in his directorial debut: a feature film version of his hit Broadway musical Sweet Charity, which had opened on Broadway with Verdon as the lead less than three years early. While Bob is the director, it is clear that Verdon is just as much a creative force as he is, deconstructing the movement for the dancers and even recommending one of them should be cut when the frame needs to be tightened.

At a party to celebrate the film’s opening the following year, Verdon and Fosse host a party for friends and colleagues at their New York City apartment. While the energy is positive with the attendees entertained by a performance from their young daughter Nicole, the reviews for the film are notably less enthusiastic. Of particular note in the New York Times review, which says “Sweet Charity is a movie haunted by the presence of an unseen star, Gwen Verdon. Although Mrs. McClaine often looks like Miss Verdon, she never succeeds at recreating the eccentric line that gave cohesion to the original.” 

The box office bust of Sweet Charity makes Bob have to work hard to line up his next film directorial job, which he hopes to be a film adaptation of the 1966 Broadway musical Cabaret. While the film’s producer Cy Feuer is skeptical that Bob’s aesthetic is appropriate for the material, Fosse convinces him by leaning on his experience performing in the USO during World War II. Well, that and going behind Feuer’s back by speaking to his boss.

Fosse lands the job and flies to Munich, Germany to direct the film two years later. But while he seems in his element visiting a brothel to cast extras and sleeping with his translator, Feuer is concerned that Fosse’s demand for specificity is going to cost the production millions like the financial flop Sweet Charity. Bob asks Gwen to join him in Munich, where she again saves the show by applying dancers make up and even making a 72 hour trip to New York and back to pick up the perfect gorilla costume.

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Nov 03 2020

26mins

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#410 - Raise Your Voice (Election Day, feat. Brandon Victor Dixon, Ashley Monet, Ryan Vasquez)

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It is November 2nd. That means that TOMORROW is November 3rd, the day that we’ve all been waiting for...the election. In the past few months,  we’ve been able to speak with so many incredible artists who are fighting the good fight, and it has been my biggest motivator.  Today, with only one day left, I wanted to check back in with some of these brilliant people and see what they’ve accomplished. Stay tuned!

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Nov 02 2020

22mins

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#409 - Movin Out (feat. Barrett Martin)

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Over the years, The Ensemblist has had the privilege of sharing personal stories from hundreds of theatre actors on our blog. In this edition, we spoke with Chicago’s Barrett Martin, who gave us an awe-inspiring testimony of his continental RV roadtrip with his wife and son.

This last summer over the course of just 28 days, Barrett and his family explored an astounding 6,200-plus miles, crossing through 15 states and more than five national parks. In his own words, here are a few of Barrett’s takeaways from the open road.

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Oct 30 2020

18mins

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#408 - Hurt and Healing (feat. Myles McHale)

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Over the years, The Ensemblist has had the privilege of sharing personal stories from hundreds of theatre actors on our blog. In this edition, we spoke with Myles McHale of Mean Girls, who recalled a seemingly innocuous wrist injury a year prior that would take him out of the production for six whole months. 

In the days and weeks leading up to Myles return to rehearsals, Broadway shut down in the second week of March, sidelining not only Myles return to the stage, but even his in-person physical therapy.

In his own words, here is Myles’ inspiring take on staying optimistic and galvanized through this unprecedented time.

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Oct 29 2020

11mins

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#407 - The Line (Hamilton, feat. Stephanie Klemons)

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In my exploration of “the line” and its impact on musical theatre, I wanted to learn more about its use in Hamilton, I reached out to a friend and colleague who has intimate knowledge of the show’s staging. Stephanie Klemons is a noted mover and shaker in the theatre industry, known for her work onstage and off. But her most impressive title is that of Global Dance Supervisor for Hamilton: An American Musical

Steph was in the room as Hamilton was staged, sitting at tech tables as the show was refined, performed in the show as an original cast member and now helps to set and maintain companies of the show around the world. She was generous enough to take time to talk to me from her New York home, where she and her wife raise their young son. Between starting episodes of Dinosaur Train, Steph told me about the purpose of the line in Hamilton and how she teaches the staging to scores of performers around the world.

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Oct 28 2020

23mins

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iTunes Ratings

352 Ratings
Average Ratings
329
16
5
1
1

SMASH recaps

By Quarantined in NYC - Mar 28 2020
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SMASH recaps are irreverent, fun, and spot on! You MUST continue them for Season Two!

So good!

By ccm2006 - Oct 14 2019
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The Way Down Hadestown series was so good!!!