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.

The Ensemblist #34: Writing for Ensemblists

26Oct

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On this latest (super-exciting!) episode of The Ensemblist, Nikka and Mo interview three Tony-winning composers/lyricists who have created musicals filled with large ensembles. Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Lin-Manuel Miranda explain how they wrote some of the most memorable ensemble numbers of the past couple of decades. They discuss their inspirations, their support team, how they think of ensembles and ensemblists during the creation process, and what they look for when putting together an ensemble. 

Our Guests:
Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Rocky, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, Seussical, Matters of the Heart, Ragtime, My Favorite Year, Once On This Island)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Bring It On The Musical, In the Heights)

The Ensemblist #33: Ensemblists in Plays

12Oct

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When many people think of “Broadway,” they often think of those big, spectacular Broadway musicals. However, it is important to remember that straight plays also contribute to the continued success of Broadway. Oftentimes, big-name actors known for their work in television and film will appear in a play, and producers hope that star power will attract more of a commercial audience. While plays do not typically require performers to sing and dance, as in a musical, many actors do, in fact, possess all of the skills to cross over between the two types of Broadway shows. The three guests on this episode, who are multifaceted artists across many different genres, discuss their experiences working in straight plays on Broadway.


Our Guests:

Nick Corley (You Can’t Take It With You, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Mary Poppins, She Loves Me)

Christopher Gurr (All The Way

Leah Hofmann (Big Fish, War Horse

The Ensemblist #32: I’m.In.Tech.

28Sep

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We’ve talked a lot on the show about everything it takes to put up a Broadway musical- the creative team, the audition process, the myriad ways ensemblists are used onstage- but we haven’t talked about moving into the theatre, the incredibly long days, the tedious moments, and the crazy times of tech.

The process of technical rehearsals, where every moment of the show is now looked at by every department instead of just in the safe space of the rehearsal room. Now, it’s all about rehearsals for sound, lights, projections, props, crew, orchestra, wardrobe, hair, and many more- it is during these rehearsals that a show truly comes together.

Tech takes its toll on your personal life, sanity, eating habits, and your workout schedule, but hearing the audience enjoy the final product when the show is FINALLY up and running is a feeling like no other. On this episode of The Ensemblist, we speak to three actors, all recently familiar with the tech process on Broadway. We hear about the entire process from the mundane moments to the dream-fulfilling experiences.

Our Guests:
Lori Ann Ferreri (On The Town, Wicked)
Michael James Scott (Aladdin, The Book of Mormon, Elf, Hair, The Pirate Queen, Tarzan, All Shook Up, Mamma Mia!)
Ephraim Sykes (Motown the Musical, Newsies the Musical, Memphis, The Little Mermaid)

The Ensemblist #31: Ensemble Musicals

14Sep

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On this latest episode of The Ensemblist, Nikka and Mo interview three Broadway stars who have shined in ensemble musicals. As veterans of various types of Broadway shows, Telly Leung, Dana Moore, and Julia Murney explain how ensemble shows are unique experiences that require trust and flexibility throughout the entire journey.

As opposed to traditional book musicals with lead characters, supporting players, features, and ensemblists, ensemble shows tell their story differently- every member of the cast takes the spotlight at some point during the show. These three guests all have experience with this alternative way of storytelling through song- and their stories about what it takes to work as a group shine a whole new light on what it’s like to truly work together.


Our Guests:

Telly Leung (Godspell, Rent, Pacific Overtures, Flower Drum Song)

Dana Moore (Fosse, Chicago, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Will Rogers Follies, Dangerous Games, Sweet Charity, Singin’ in the Rain, On Your Toes, Copperfield, Sugar Babies, Dancin’, A Chorus Line)

Julia Murney (Wicked, Lennon)

The Ensemblist #30: Stage and Screen

24Aug

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Lights, camera, ACTION! In the past decade, movie musicals have appeared more frequently in the mainstream lineup of films. With such hits as Chicago, Hairspray, and the highly-anticipated Into the Woods out this winter, it is without question that moviegoers enjoy watching Broadway’s megahits on the big screen.

Many of these successful cinematic musicals have featured Broadway veterans in their casts. On this episode of The Ensemblist, Broadway vet Charlie Williams takes the guest host seat and helps Mo talk to three other insanely accomplished stalwarts of stage and screen about what it takes to do musical numbers in so many different ways, and how Broadway prepared them for performing on the big and silver screens.


Our Guests:
Deidre Goodwin (Chicago, Across the Universe
Curtis Holbrook (Smash, Hairspray, Across the Universe)
Paul McGill (Smash, Fame)

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