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The Ensemblist
#146 - Fosse and Verdon (Episode 6 feat. Heather Lang)

#146 - Fosse and Verdon (Episode 6 feat. Heather Lang)

May 16, 2019

The sixth and seventh episodes turn their focus onto the creation of Chicago. We see Fosse in the rehearsal room as begins staging the show before being sidelined with health issues. When he comes back after four months, the show becomes much darker - turning into the piece we know and love today. Among the Broadway performers playing those in the rehearsal room are Robyn Hurder, Michael Williams, Fred Odgaard, Alex Wong and this week’s guest, Heather Lang.

Heather Lang has performed on Broadway in An American in Paris and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and will be back in Jagged Little Pill this fall. In Fosse/Verdon, she plays Sandy, Fosse’s associate on multiple projects from the film of Cabaret to Chicago on Broadway. Here’s our conversation.

#153 - May 2019 (feat. Tootsie, Beetlejuice, Christine Cornish Smith)

#153 - May 2019 (feat. Tootsie, Beetlejuice, Christine Cornish Smith)

May 9, 2019

On this episode, we hear from Kiss Me, Kate’s Christine Cornish Smith, plus reviews of the ensembles of Beetlejuice and Tootsie.

Less than a week after opening Kiss Me, Kate at Studio 54, she received a surprising text. Every actor who’s understudied a leading role knows what it feels like to receive this text. You know, the one where the stage manager writes that the leading lady is out and you’re going on in the role? Here to tell us about that day is Christine Cornish Smith.

#152 - Doubletapped (feat. DeMarius Copes)

#152 - Doubletapped (feat. DeMarius Copes)

May 6, 2019

Welcome back to Doubletapped, a series from The Ensemblist featuring candid, one-on-one interviews with Broadway actors about authenticity on social media.

In the last Broadway season, no new musical caught the social media zeitgeist as strongly as Mean Girls. One of the strongest voices to come out of that social phenomenon is DeMarius Copes. An original company member of the Newsies national tour, Copes made his Broadway debut in Mean Girls in the ensemble and covering the role of Damian. Here’s our conversation.

#151 - Fosse and Verdon (Episode 4 feat. Emma Caymares)

#151 - Fosse and Verdon (Episode 4 feat. Emma Caymares)

May 1, 2019

The fourth episode. Man, it’s a friggin doozy! Using the development of Pippin as a jumping off point, we really get to see into Fosse’s process. Through power plays and an incredible amount of sexual misconduct in the workplace, Fosse woes the company into the performances we wants them to deliver. In this episode, there are many familiar Broadway faces playing the company of Pippin including this week’s guest, Emma Caymares.

Emma Caymares has performed at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in two productions, playing Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Wendy in Finding Neverland. She also performed on the small screen in the Starz series Flesh and Bone. In Fosse/Verdon, she plays Rebecca, one of the dancers in the original company of Pippin who caughts caught up in the power of Bob Fosse - and visa versa.

#150 - Doubletapped (feat. Amber Ardolino)

#150 - Doubletapped (feat. Amber Ardolino)

April 29, 2019

Welcome back to Doubletapped, a series from The Ensemblist featuring candid, one-on-one interviews with Broadway actors about authenticity on social media.

Since originating the role of Woman 1 in the Chicago company of Hamilton, Amber Ardolino has given striking performances in both Hamilton on Broadway and the original musical Head Over Heels earlier this season. But just as striking as her onstage persona is Amber’s social media presence, which seamlessly combines poise, positivity and a strong POV. Here’s our conversation...

#149 - Fosse and Verdon (Episode 3 feat. Ricky Ubeda)

#149 - Fosse and Verdon (Episode 3 feat. Ricky Ubeda)

April 24, 2019

In the third episode of the F/X Fosse/Verdon miniseries, the episode’s primary musical moment does not celebrate Fosse at all. It is a flashback sequence where a young Gwen Verdon, working as a reviewer for the Hollywood Bugle, first sees the work of seminal choreographer Jack Cole. Performing in a nightclub as Cole’s dancers are Eliza Ohman, Adrian Lee, Reed Luplau, Ryan Steele and my guest for this episode, Ricky Ubeda.

Ricky Ubeda made his Broadway debut in the Broadway revivals of On The Town, which he joined just after winning the 11th season of television’s So You Think You Can Dance. Since then, he’s become a mainstay of the Broadway stage, playing Mistoffelees in the revival of Cats  and in the revival Carousel choreographed by Justin Peck.

#148 - My First Time (feat. Shoshana Bean)

#148 - My First Time (feat. Shoshana Bean)

April 21, 2019

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.

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

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

April 18, 2019

This spring, The Ensemblist is speaking to some of the artists with Broadway cred who helped make the F/X miniseries Fosse/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. 

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

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

April 11, 2019

This week, FX launched a new limited television series Fosse/Verdon, based on the 2013 biography by Sam Wasson with a focus on his marriage and collaboration with Gwen Verdon. This spring. The Ensemblist is speaking to some of the artists with Broadway cred who helped make the series possible.

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.

#145 - April 2019 (feat. Vasthy Mompoint, Kiss Me, Kate, Ain’t Too Proud)

#145 - April 2019 (feat. Vasthy Mompoint, Kiss Me, Kate, Ain’t Too Proud)

April 8, 2019

On this episode, we hear from The Prom’s Vasthy Mompoint, plus reviews of the ensembles of Kiss Me, Kate and Ain’t Too Proud.

#144 - The Band’s Visit (feat. George Abud, Sharone Sayegh)

#144 - The Band’s Visit (feat. George Abud, Sharone Sayegh)

April 4, 2019

The Band’s Visit is one of those Broadway musicals that does not have an ensemble, per se, but in which every actor is working together to present a cohesive point of view. Yes, there are leading roles and supporting roles, but more than in most musicals the entire company of actors, musicians, and actor/musicians create a mood, a feeling and a sense of place. And so we honor their remarkable run on Broadway with this show, featuring some of our favorite stories about The Band’s Visit.

#143 - Kinky Boots (feat. Adinah Alexander, Andy Kelso, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Joey Taranto)

#143 - Kinky Boots (feat. Adinah Alexander, Andy Kelso, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Joey Taranto)

April 1, 2019

For seven years and 2,507 public performances, Kinky Boots has been raising up audiences at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Broadway. For those of us at Ensemblist HQ, the show has a special place in ours hearts because of the ways it showcases its ensembles actors onstage, and has treated so many of them like honored family offstage.

Of the 61 actors who have played ensemble roles in the Broadway production, we’ve been lucky enough to have eight of them in the studio during the show’s run. So, as a special tribute to them and their fantastic achievement, we’ve put together some of our very favorite stories about Kinky Boots for you.

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

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

March 28, 2019

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.

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

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

March 25, 2019

Welcome to My First Time, where we talk to Broadway stars who made their Broadway debuts in the ensemble to talk about why that experience helped shape them as an artist. As they’ve ascended up the title pages of our Playbills and descended the towers of backstage dressing rooms to floor closer to the stage level, I’ve been curious as to whether they’ve considered that time doing ensemble work as formative, or merely a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

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.

#140 - March 2019 (feat. Ramone Owens, Nicky Venditti, We Are The Tigers)

#140 - March 2019 (feat. Ramone Owens, Nicky Venditti, We Are The Tigers)

March 11, 2019

Welcome back listeners to our monthly episode, where we share some of the most popular stories from our blog at The Ensemblist.com. On this episode, we hear from Wicked’s Nicky Venditti and Bettlejuice’s Ramone Owens, plus a review of the new off-Broadway musical We Are The Tigers.

#139 - Broadway Debuts (feat. Kimberly Dodson, Tiana Okoye, Nikhil Saboo, Jack Sippel and Khadija Tariyan)

#139 - Broadway Debuts (feat. Kimberly Dodson, Tiana Okoye, Nikhil Saboo, Jack Sippel and Khadija Tariyan)

March 4, 2019

Today, we have some really fantastic stories to share from five actors who made their Broadway debuts in 2018. This quintet of triple threats sat down with us in front of a live audience at BroadwayCon 2019 to share what it’s like to have their dreams fulfilled by performing on Broadway.

 

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

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

February 25, 2019

Welcome to My First Time, a new mini-series from The Ensemblist where we talk to Broadway stars who made their Broadway debuts in the ensemble to talk about why that experience helped shape them as an artist. For many of our favorite Broadway stars, their start in the ensemble helped to form them as artists.

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. 

#137 - February 2019 (feat. Kathryn Allison, Maria Briggs)

#137 - February 2019 (feat. Kathryn Allison, Maria Briggs)

February 11, 2019

Welcome back listeners to our monthly episode, where we share some of the most popular stories from our blog at The Ensemblist.com.

On this episode, we here from Kathryn Allison about how the surprises of creating her first studio album, and Maria Briggs on how she managed to be in four Broadway shows within six months.

#136 - Rent Live: “I Should Tell You” (feat. Fred Odgaard)

#136 - Rent Live: “I Should Tell You” (feat. Fred Odgaard)

February 5, 2019

Just last weekend, Rent joined The Sound of Music, Grease, The Wiz and more to become part of the modern canon of live TV musicals. Over the years, I’ve grown curious about how putting on one of these live television musicals differs from what we do in the theatre. So I reached out to some of the live telecast’s company with Broadway cred to ask them just that.

Fred Odgaard’s career has spanned both the theatre and dance worlds, including Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Cirque de Soliel’s Elvis and two Broadway musicals: Finding Neverland and Kinky Boots. He is also an original company of Sonya Tayeh’s dance company, continuing his collaboration with her on both Broadway’s upcoming Moulin Rouge and Rent Live on Fox.

#135 - Rent Live: “I Should Tell You” (feat. Khori Petinaud)

#135 - Rent Live: “I Should Tell You” (feat. Khori Petinaud)

January 31, 2019

On Sunday, January 27, Rent became the 7th Broadway show to join the modern canon of live TV musicals. On this episode, we spoke to cast member Khori Petinaud about working with choreographer Sonya Tayeh, and co-star Brennin Hunt’s now-infamous injury.

 

#134 - Doubletapped (feat. Olivia Puckett)

#134 - Doubletapped (feat. Olivia Puckett)

January 17, 2019

Doubletapped features candid, one-on-one interviews with Broadway actors about authenticity on social media. These are questions that any user of social media platforms grapples with - sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously. However this balance is particularly interesting for actors, who are used to sharing versions of themselves in a public space.

Olivia Puckett made a splash as an original company member of Dear Evan Hansen, standing by for the roles of Zoe Murphy and Alana Beck. I wanted to ask her about how the show changed the way she posts and presents online, particularly in light of the show’s popularity with teens and millennials.

 

#133 - Doubletapped (feat. Gerard Canonico)

#133 - Doubletapped (feat. Gerard Canonico)

January 14, 2019

Doubletapped features candid, one-on-one interviews with Broadway actors about authenticity on social media. These are questions that any user of social media platforms grapples with - sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously. However this balance is particularly interesting for actors, who are used to sharing versions of themselves in a public space.

Someone who has seen firsthand the development of social media and its relationship is Gerard Canonico. While Gerard has been performing on Broadway for almost three decades. he’s garnering a lot of buzz right now for his upcoming role of Rich Goranski in Be More Chill. So I wanted to get him in the hot seat to ask him about he’s seen Broadway and its relationship to social media change over time. 

#132 - Doubletapped (feat. Kamille Upshaw)

#132 - Doubletapped (feat. Kamille Upshaw)

January 10, 2019

Doubletapped features candid, one-on-one interviews with Broadway actors about authenticity on social media. These are questions that any user of social media platforms grapples with - sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously. However this balance is particularly interesting for actors, who are used to sharing versions of themselves in a public space.

Kamille Upshaw made her Broadway debut by joining the company of Hamilton just four weeks after the show’s opening night. After performing in the show for almost two years, she left to originate her current role in Broadway’s Mean Girls.

 

#131 - Doubletapped (feat. Charlie Williams)

#131 - Doubletapped (feat. Charlie Williams)

January 6, 2019

Doubletapped features candid, one-on-one interviews with Broadway actors about authenticity on social media. These are questions that any user of social media platforms grapples with - sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously. However this balance is particularly interesting for actors, who are used to sharing versions of themselves in a public space.

Charlie Williams' Broadway credits include the original companies of Memphis, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Miss Saigon. He's also worked on the choreographic teams of Frozen and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Currently, he can be seen eight times a week in the ensemble of The Cher Show.

 

#130 - December 2018 (feat. Wesley Ian Cappiello)

#130 - December 2018 (feat. Wesley Ian Cappiello)

December 8, 2018

On this episode, we announce the 2018 Ensemblist Award recipients, share our thoughts of Broadway’s newest musical The Cher Show, divulge the details on a sweepstakes we are hosting for screening passings to Mary Poppins Returns and we share a story from Wesley Ian Cappiello about how A Chorus Line made his dreams come true this year - twice.