UA-40868602-1 The Ensemblist
The Ensemblist
#171 - Way Down Hadestown (feat. Kimberly Marable)

#171 - Way Down Hadestown (feat. Kimberly Marable)

July 15, 2019

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.

Kimberly Marable recently completed a five-year residency in the ensemble of The Lion King on Broadway. Beforehand, she had made her Broadway debut as a replacement in Sister Act. In addition to her work onstage, she’s one of the co-founders of Broadway Serves, an organization for community members looking to be the change they want to see in the world. In Hadestown, Kimberly plays Worker #1 and covers the roles of Persephone and the Fates. Here’s our conversation…

#170 - College Prep (feat. Brittany Zeinstra)

#170 - College Prep (feat. Brittany Zeinstra)

July 11, 2019

Brittany Zeinstra is a 2016 graduate of Boston Conservatory where she received a BFA in Musical Theatre. She made her Broadway debut in The Prom in the ensemble and covering the lead role of Emma. Brittany also played Sophie in Mamma Mia! At The MUNY and toured the country as a swing in The Little Mermaid. Here’s our conversation…

#169 - Way Down Hadestown (feat. Afra Hines)

#169 - Way Down Hadestown (feat. Afra Hines)

July 8, 2019

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.

Afra Hines joined the company of Hadestown fresh off of her performance in the ensemble of  Summer: The Donna Summer Musical where she also received the Legacy Robe. She was previously in the original companies Soul Doctor, Motown, Ghost and In the Heights. Afra has toured the country in one of the nation’s companies of Hamilton and was also featured as the show artwork for Shuffle Along: or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. In Hadestown, she plays Worker #2 and covers the role of Persephone. Here’s our conversation…

(Note: We're aware that the audio from this interview is more "echoey" than our typical episode due to our recording location. However, we think that conversation is still great and hope that you'll enjoy!)

#168 - July 2019 (feat. Rock of Ages, Shereen Ahmed)

#168 - July 2019 (feat. Rock of Ages, Shereen Ahmed)

July 3, 2019

On this episode, we share an incredible story from Lincoln Center Theatre revival of My Fair Lady - plus our review of Rock of Ages.

Shereen became the first woman of color to play Eliza Doolittle on Broadway. While she’s a trailblazer in terms of representation, her love of the show My Fair Lady is something she developed at a very young age. And while the role isn’t one that she imagined playing, there are reasons why she was the perfect choice to take on the part as an understudy in the Lincoln Center Theatre revival. Here, in her own words, is Shereen Ahmed.

#167 - Way Down Hadestown (feat. Ahmad Simmons)

#167 - Way Down Hadestown (feat. Ahmad Simmons)

July 1, 2019

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 about the characters they’ve created and the careers that got them there.

Ahmad Simmons has performed in three original Broadway companies in the last four years: Cats, Carousel and now Hadestown. In addition to performing choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and Justin Peck, he was also featured this spring playing Ben Vereen on the F/X miniseries Fosse/Verdon. In Hadestown, he plays Worker #4 as well as understudying the roles of Hermes and Orpheus. Here’s our conversation...

#166 - Let’s Talk About Auditions (feat. Chris Kong)

#166 - Let’s Talk About Auditions (feat. Chris Kong)

June 27, 2019

Chris Kong currently plays piano in the orchestra of Broadway’s Frozen, Mean Girls, Pretty Woman and The Prom. But those four are just a few of the productions he’s played for in rehearsals or performance on Broadway and across the country. Additionally, Chris has been playing auditions in New York City since 2007. Playing both open calls and audition appointments for three different casting offices, Chris has seen what works - and what doesn’t - in the audition room. Here’s our conversation... 

#165 - College Prep (feat. Ben Bogen)

#165 - College Prep (feat. Ben Bogen)

June 24, 2019

Ben Bogen is a 2016 graduate of The University of Michigan with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Since then, he made his Broadway debut in the ensemble of Frozen. He’s also toured the country in the ensemble of Jersey Boys where he was also the assistant dance captain. This year alone, in addition to performing in Frozen, he played Pepper in Mamma Mia! at NC Theater and in the ensemble of The Flamingo Kid at Hartford Stage. Here’s our conversation...

#164 - College Prep (feat. Christine Shepard)

#164 - College Prep (feat. Christine Shepard)

June 20, 2019

Welcome to a new mini-series from The Ensemblist where I sit down with recent college grads about making the jump from college to Broadway. I wanted to know what they learned at school, which makes a musical theatre training unique, and if what they learned in school really prepared them for working on the Great White Way.

Christine Shepard is a 2019 graduate of Pace University in their Commercial Dance department. However, she spent much of her senior year on Broadway, working as a swing in the original company of Head Over Heels. Since then, Christine has joined her second Broadway show, Mean Girls, where she plays the ensemble role of Rachel Hamilton. Here’s our conversation...

#163 - Let’s Talk About Auditions (feat. Stephen Oremus)

#163 - Let’s Talk About Auditions (feat. Stephen Oremus)

June 16, 2019

Stephen Oremus’ resume as music supervisor is a literal catalog of the 21st Century Broadway hits: Wicked, Kinky Boots, Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon and Frozen. He also supervised or continues to supervise many of those shows’ international productions a well. He was the conductor on the film of Frozen, and music directed both The Wiz Live! And Rent Live! Oh, and he’s a two-time Tony Award winner. He’s one of the busiest guys I know but also one of the most gracious which is why I’m so glad he took the time to sit down with me and chat. Here’s our conversation...

#162 - Let’s Talk About Auditions (feat. Spencer Liff)

#162 - Let’s Talk About Auditions (feat. Spencer Liff)

June 13, 2019

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…

#161 - Tony Awards 2019 Recap (with Billboard on Broadway)

#161 - Tony Awards 2019 Recap (with Billboard on Broadway)

June 10, 2019

Today, we're sharing a conversation about the 73rd Annual Tony Awards with Billboard on Broadway's Rebecca Milzoff. We talk about favorite performances, what worked - and what didn't!

Subscribe to Billboard on Broadway here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/billboard-on-broadway/id1211823315

#160 - June 2019 (feat. Hadestown, Jane Bunting)

#160 - June 2019 (feat. Hadestown, Jane Bunting)

June 6, 2019

On this episode, we share our review of Hadestown, announce our first ever Season Standout List and heat and incredible story from the national tour of Come From Away.

The story we have to share with you this month comes from Jane Bunting. Her relationship with Come From Away goes back to the show’s pre-Broadway tryout in Washington DC. Prior to traveling the country as a standby and dance captain for the show’s national tour, she briefly joined the Broadway company last summer. But an unexpected set of circumstances brought her back to Broadway last month - with her suitcase and wig in tow. Here, in her own words, is Jane Bunting.

#159 - Let’s Talk About Auditions (feat. Rachel Hoffman)

#159 - Let’s Talk About Auditions (feat. Rachel Hoffman)

June 3, 2019

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?

Rachel Hoffman is a casting director with Telsey + Company, which she joined after beginning her career on the team at Dave Clemmons casting almost 20 years ago. In the last decade, Hoffman has been on the casting team of 10 Broadway musicals, including the Tony Award-winning Memphis. Her work can currently be seen with the companies of Come From Away, Frozen and Beetlejuice. In addition to her work as casting director, she is also a sought-after instructor and proud (very proud, maybe too proud?) graduate of the University of Michigan. In the studio, I asked her about what makes a good audition, what not to wear and her favorite story of an ensemble actor shining in the audition room. Here’s our conversation...

#158 - Fosse and Verdon (Episode 8 feat. Kelcy Ann Griffin)

#158 - Fosse and Verdon (Episode 8 feat. Kelcy Ann Griffin)

May 30, 2019

In the final episode of Fosse/Verdon, we see Gwen and Bobby back together to work on a pre-Broadway revival of Sweet Charity. Leading the pack is today’s guest Kelcy Ann Griffin. Kelcy performed on Broadway herself in Bullets Over Broadway and Chicago. She has also played Detective Harper on TV’s Gotham for two seasons. On Fosse/Verdon, she plays Debbie Allen. Allen is perhaps most beloved to musical lovers for playing Lydia in both the movie and TV versions of Fame. Today, she’s know for her work as Dr. Catherine Avery on Grey’s Anatomy. But she started as a Broadway baby, performing in Raisin and Ain’t Misbehavin’, Anita in the 1980 Broadway revival and Charity in the Broadway revival of Sweet Charity.

Recording from Actors Connection’s New York City studios, I asked Griffin about her experience with Fosse and embodying an icon.

#157 - My First Time (feat. Desi Oakley)

#157 - My First Time (feat. Desi Oakley)

May 27, 2019

Welcome back to My First Time, where we talk to stars who made their Broadway debuts in the ensemble to talk about why that experience helped shape them as an artist. 

Nobody has climbed the Broadway ladder with as comprehensively as Desi Oakley. Fresh off a run as Jenna in the national tour of Waitress, she is currently starring in Chicago on Broadway as the iconic role of Roxie Hart. But that stardom comes on the heels of experience, after standing by for the role of Eva Peron on the national tour of Evita, as well as swinging two Broadway musicals: Annie and Wicked, her Broadway debut. Here’s our conversation...

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

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

May 23, 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.

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...

#155 - Chita Rivera Awards (feat. Warren Carlyle, Graciela Daniele, Denis Jones, David Neumann, Ann Reinking)

#155 - Chita Rivera Awards (feat. Warren Carlyle, Graciela Daniele, Denis Jones, David Neumann, Ann Reinking)

May 21, 2019

This Sunday, we traveled all the way down to the West Village for the Chita Rivera Awards, which celebrates achievements in dance for both film and New York theatre. NYU’s Skirball Center was abuzz with dozens of our favorite ensemblists, stars and choreographers there to celebrate the best of this season, including Will Burton, Warren Carlyle, Graciela Daniele, Rick Faugno, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Denis Jones, David Neumann, Kristen Faith Oei, Ann Reinking, Jack Sippel and Christine Cornish Smith.

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

#154 - 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.