The Ensemblist

The Ensemblist

THE ENSEMBLIST IS AN ONLINE ADVOCATE FOR THE TALENTED ARTISTS WHO WORK IN BROADWAY ENSEMBLES. What started as an audio podcast for those curious about how Broadway really works turned into an avenue for young and aspiring professional artists to learn more about theatre from in the inside out.... Show More

Episodes

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 doe... Read more

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From spectacular sets to jaw dropping performances, the theatre is full of magical moments. One of the reasons so many of us love Broadway is that the players display incredible feats of skill in front of a live audience. But in a world of remarkable artists, none one takes on as herculean a task as an understudy. Understudies are required to replicate another actors’ performance, knowing exactly where they move and how they move t... Read more

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Whenever New York-based actors leave the city to perform, there’s a certain amount of bravery that must take place when you walk outside the theatre’s doors. Although the production may stay the same from city to city, your life outside the theatre can change drastically depending on where you are. That challenge is magnified when the cities you’re touring to are halfway across the world in countries you’ve ever been to before.  Ry... Read more

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Every spring, theatre fans look to The Ensemblist when they ask why there isn’t a Tony Award for Best Ensemble? And this year, I wanted to provide listeners with an informed and thoughtful look at the challenges and barriers of adding a category to the Tony Awards. Beyond emotions, I’m interested in why adding a category is more complex than listeners may imagine. It wasn’t easy. Pursuing an open discussion about the Tony Awards le... Read more

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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 counterp... Read more

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Last season, 288 actors worked as swings on Broadway. That’s literally a third of the performers working under Actors Equity chorus contracts. And yet, the job of a swing is still one of the most esoteric jobs in the theatre.  In general, swings are hired to understudy multiple ensemble tracks on a production. They’re asked to remember all of the lines, blocking, choreography, vocal harmonies and backstage traffic for multiple role... Read more

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One of the loudest and most vibrant cultural conversations to recently hit the Broadway community has been about racial representation. Throughout dressing rooms and across casting tables, there’s a persistent desire from audiences and artists to see more diverse stories onstage. And yet, the racial diversity of our country isn’t reflected in the racial diversity of Broadway performers. There has been no seismic shift in the numbe... Read more

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January 30, 2020 20 min

“Hell on Earth” premiered on April 2, 2012 (Happy...April Fools?). It was written by Scott Burkhardt and directed by Paul McGuigan. The episode was viewed by 6.03 million viewers, which is again down, this time by .11 million. Oof. Featured Songs? Again, no Bombshell music, unless you count the snippet of the “Arthur Miller Medley” that Brian d’Arcy James sang at the piano, but we did get an original song by Shaiman and Whitman fro... Read more

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Last season, The Prom leapt onto the Broadway scene, delighting audiences with an original queer-themed musical just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. In The Prom, teenage lesbian Emma Nolan is banned from attending her high school prom with her girlfriend, Alyssa. When a group of narcissistic Broadway performers hear the news, they travel to Indiana to help Emma and pick up some good press along the way. Whi... Read more

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January 23, 2020 19 min

“The Coup” premiered on March 26, 2012. It was directed by Paris Barclay, and written by show creator Theresa Rebeck. This is the first episode Ms. Rebeck has been credited with writing since episode 3. Upon premiere, the episode was viewed by 6.14 million, which is down .42 million from the week before. It just keeps going down… This is the first episode where there is zero music by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, which makes sens... Read more

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Recently, Jackson Cline of The Ensemblist has been asking several questions about queer representation in musical theatre. How has the portrayal and inclusion of queer characters evolved over the years? Are more queer artists getting opportunities to tell these stories, both onstage and behind the scenes? And does giving queer-identifying individuals opportunities to create queer roles create a richer theatrical experience for the ... Read more

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January 16, 2020 17 min

“The Workshop” premiered on March 19, 2012. It was written by Jason Grote, and directed by Mimi Leder. The episode premiered to 6.56 million viewers, down about half a mil from the previous week. Being the workshop presentation, we basically saw excerpts of all the original music from Bombshell by Shaiman and Whitman that we have seen thus far, but we also saw a new original song called “On Lexington and 52nd Street” in its entiret... Read more

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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... Read more

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January 9, 2020 16 min

“Chemistry” premiered on March 12, 2012. The episode was written by Jacquelyn Reingold, and was directed by Dan Attias. It premiered live to an audience of 7.04 million viewers. The featured songs in this episode included two covers — Shake it Out by Florence & The Machine and Who You Are by Jessie J — and one original song by Shaiman and Whitman called “History is Made at Night.” Oh yeah, and Karen massacres “Hava Nagila,” if ... Read more

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As a capstone to the interviews we’ve had with actors on social media, I wanted to get some broader perspective on social media trends in the Broadway space. That’s why I called my friend and colleague, Felicia Fitzpatrick. She is Director of Social Media and Creative Strategy of Playbill, a well as producer and host of her own very-fine podcast “Call and Response,” which explores the intersection of blackness and performing arts. ... Read more

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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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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 ... Read more

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In our recent episodes about Touring Broadway, actors Josh Burrage and Sabrina Imamura shared with us some of the joys and struggles of touring with A Bronx Tale, Newsies and Hamilton. But while they each have significant experience in the road, one thing neither of them were able to speak to was going on the road as a parent.  That’s why I found this Mama’s Talkin Loud so intriguing. Mama’s Talkin Loud is a new parenting podcast ... Read more

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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... Read more

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Full disclosure: I love Cats. (The musical, not the animals because I’m allergic.) As my mother can attest to, I spent many of my middle school years listing to the double CD set of the original Broadway album, mentally cataloging the characters and memorizing the lyrics. So I’m as intrigued as anybody about this new feature-film of Cats about to be released. Will it be able to contain the same alchemy of weird wonder that has made... Read more

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