The Ensemblist #43: Understudies

22Feb

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A Broadway show is a team, and that team wouldn’t be able to go on eight shows a week without their understudies. And as most of a show’s understudies come from its ensemble, we wanted to highlight this very important aspect of an ensemblist’s life. Guests Gaelen Gilliland, Adam Kaplan, and Wallace Smith share their favorite understudy experiences, mishaps, and crazy backstage antics that go along with the job.


Our Guests:

Gaelen Gilliland (Honeymoon In Vegas, 9 to 5 the Musical, Legally Blonde, Wicked

Adam Kaplan (Newsies)

Wallace Smith (Rocky, Godspell, American Idiot, Ragtime, Hair, The Lion King)

The Ensemblist #42: Spotlight On: Costumes!

8Feb

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Nikka and Mo are so excited to bring you the latest edition of their “Spotlight On” series, which began in April 2014 to highlight behind-the-scenes careers on Broadway. 


On this episode of The Ensemblist, we hear from three important members of the costume team: a designer, a wardrobe supervisor, and a dresser. John Michael Dias, Tree Lonon, and Tobin Ost share their memories of getting started in the world of wardrobe, the process of opening a Broadway show from a costume perspective, the kind of upkeep it really takes for all those costume pieces, and those quick changes that make Broadway so dang spectacular.


John Michael Dias (performer: Jersey Boys. Wardrobe: On The Town, Scandalous)

Tree Lonon (over 20 Broadway productions as a dresser)

Tobin Ost (Designer: Jekyll & Hyde, Bonnie And Clyde, The Philanthropist, Brooklyn)

The Ensemblist #41: Half Hour

25Jan

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Nikka and Mo give listeners another special episode of The Ensemblist, featuring a number of recent podcast guests discussing their preparations before they hit the stage. 


Actors’ Equity requires that all performers arrive at the theatre one half hour - thirty minutes - before showtime. This is your time to get into costume, make-up, wigs, mics and do all of the preparations needed before a performance. You can come earlier if you want, but you absolutely HAVE to be there at half hour. Each Broadway show’s physical, vocal, and visual demands are unique, so too are the pre-show rituals. Episode 41 features seven Broadway ensemblists discussing those various rituals: Brandon Bieber, Andrew Kober, Tamika Lawrence, Jess LeProtto, Tracy McDowell, Mary Beth Peil, and Kristen Beth Williams.

TheEnsemblist #40: Fall Theatre Roundtable with Patrick Hinds (and Chad Campbell!)

11Jan

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Happy New Year! Welcome, listeners, to our Fall 2014 Theatre Roundtable! 


For our first episode of 2015, we're doing something a little different. In this episode, we are going to discuss four of the plays and musicals that opened on Broadway during the fall season- Side Show, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The Last Ship, and On The Town. We discuss the shows themselves, their use of ensemblists, and some of our favorite performances. 

However, we know that Broadway shows aren’t made of ensemblists alone. There are also those beautiful people above the title, as well as the designers, directors, and other creatives. We invited Patrick Hinds of the Theater People Podcast to discuss his favorite parts of those shows for a little crossover action, as well as a special appearance from our intern, Chad!

Enjoy!

The Ensemblist #39: Listener Questions with Tamika Lawrence

28Dec

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Hello Gorgeouses! Here we are with the second of our listener questions mini-episodes- this one with one of Broadway's most fabulous forces of nature. We LOVED talking to this amazing lady!


Tamika Lawrence made her Broadway debut in 2012 as a replacement ensemblist in Broadway’s The Book of Mormon before becoming an original cast ensemblist and understudy on Matilda the MusicalThese days, Tamika stars as Elena in Broadway’s If/Then, a role that has her bouncing back and forth between principal features and ensemblist moments eight shows a week. We can't wait for you to hear our long-form interview with the Queen of Broadway Ensemblisting herself, Ms. Tamika Lawrence!

The Ensemblist #38: Listener Questions with Jess LeProtto

21Dec

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Hi, gorgeous listeners! We love you!


For this year’s listener questions episode, we decided to speak to just two guests, and to ask them each multiple questions. These two episodes will be released today (December 21), and on December 28, so look out for them during your post-Christmas travels, or car trips, or treadmill runs, or whenever you’re hiding inside a closet at a party to avoid everyone...


Our first guest is a complete Broadway stud. He made his debut at the tender age of eleven as a vacation swing in The Boy From Oz, and went on to perform in Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas - TWICE. From there, he was as an ensemblist in Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway before jumping onto the national stage as a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance.”


Upon his return to the Great White Way, Jess LeProtto made a splash as Buttons, the feisty, high-flying paperboy in the original company of Newsies- becoming the literal poster boy for the show in its last year on Broadway and the current national tour! He is now playing various roles in the incredible revival of On The Town including the role of S. Uperman opposite Jackie Hoffman.


Here's our long-form interview with the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Jess LeProtto...


And don't forget to vote for your favorite Ensemblist of the Year on Twitter! Check out our website and click on the "Ensemblist Awards" tab at the top of the page!

The Ensemblist #38: Listener Questions with Jess LeProtto

21Dec

Hi, gorgeous listeners! We love you!


For this year’s listener questions episode, we decided to speak to just two guests, and to ask them each multiple questions. These two episodes will be released today (December 21), and on December 28, so look out for them during your post-Christmas travels, or car trips, or treadmill runs, or whenever you’re hiding inside a closet at a party to avoid everyone...


Our first guest is a complete Broadway stud. He made his debut at the tender age of eleven as a vacation swing in The Boy From Oz, and went on to perform in Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas - TWICE. From there, he was as an ensemblist in Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway before jumping onto the national stage as a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance.”


Upon his return to the Great White Way, Jess LeProtto made a splash as Buttons, the feisty, high-flying paperboy in the original company of Newsies- becoming the literal poster boy for the show in its last year on Broadway and the current national tour! He is now playing various roles in the incredible revival of On The Town including the role of S. Uperman opposite Jackie Hoffman.


Here's our long-form interview with the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Jess LeProtto...


And don't forget to vote for your favorite Ensemblist of the Year on Twitter! Check out our website and click on the "Ensemblist Awards" tab at the top of the page!

The Ensemblist #37: Sondheim Ensemblists

7Dec

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To celebrate one of the most renowned composers and lyricists of the last several decades (and the big-screen release of Into the Woods, of course), Nikka and Mo interview three multifaceted performers who have had the pleasure of performing Stephen Sondheim’s work on Broadway. The prolific writer of modern musicals is synonymous with detailed, intellectual, thought-provoking storytelling, and his body of work provides American musical theatre with many of its most beloved masterpieces. Each guest discussed the rewards of working with Mr. Sondheim and what makes his musicals so special. 


Our Guests: 

Brandon Bieber (Side Show, Follies, Anything Goes, Mary Poppins) 

Brynn O’Malley (Honeymoon in Vegas, Annie, Sunday in the Park with George, Wicked, Hairspray, Beauty and the Beast)

Mary Beth Peil (Follies, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Sunday in the Park with George, Nine, The King and I)


ALSO: NOW is the time to head over to BLEEPmag.com and check out the gorgeous feature on the 2014 Ensemblist Awards! Vote for your pick for Ensemblist of the Year on Twitter! Do it!


TheEnsemblist #36: RENT Retrospective

23Nov

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It’s common knowledge that Jonathan Larson’s musical RENT defied the traditional Broadway sound and sparked the interest of performers and audience members across the world. On this latest episode of The Ensemblist, Nikka and Mo interview two performers and a member of the creative team who were part of the RENT phenomenon. Guests Robin De Jesus, Tracy McDowell, and Tim Weil provide insight into the various stages of the show, from its initial run at New York Theatre Workshop to the final performance on Broadway. Having worked on the Broadway production of RENT at different times, each guest shares the highlights of their memories with the show, and how being part of the RENT family is something to treasure forever.


Our Guests:

Robin De Jesus (La Cage aux Folles, In The Heights, RENT

Tracy McDowell (Motown, RENT

Tim Weil (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Shrek the Musical, Jumpers, RENT, Sally Marr...and Her Escorts

The Ensemblist #35: West End Ensemblists

9Nov

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On this episode of The Ensemblist, Nikka and Mo spoke to three American actors about what it’s like to take their Broadway experience across the pond and perform in London’s West End. It’s a rare opportunity that comes about in a variety of surprising ways. Since all three guests started their careers on Broadway, they each explain how the opportunity arose, how the West End traditions compare to Broadway’s, and how their lives changed because of the experience.


Our Guests:

Hillary Elk (Memphis Broadway & West End)

Andrew Kober (Broadway: Les Miserables, Hair. West End: Hair.

Kristen Beth Williams (Broadway: Pippin, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Anything Goes, Promises, Promises. West End: Top Hat.

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