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The Ensemblist is an inside look at the experience of being a Broadway performer- from the first rehearsal through performing eight shows a week and beyond. Whether you’re an experienced theatre professional or a passionate fan, The Ensemblist will give you the opportunity to get to know new performers and the great work they do onstage, while also shedding light on some of the hidden innerworkings of the Broadway experience. Created and hosted by Mo Brady (The Addams Family, SMASH) and Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Chicago, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), The Ensemblist is the only podcast that shows you Broadway from the inside out. 

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Blog

Finding Value in Every Costume

Mo Brady

by Molly Rushing

Molly Rushing in  Anastasia

Molly Rushing in Anastasia

In the spring of 2015, I became so sick that I missed most of the spring audition season. For the first time in my career, I found myself without summer work, and I was shocked to find that this bout of unemployment felt like an attack on my very identity. As the spring came to an end and I slowly got better, I continued scouring audition boards, but the opportunities were now few and far between. I did, however, notice an audition for the Tracy Anderson Method (also known as TAM). They were looking for trainers, and since I've always had an interest in working in the fitness industry, I decided to go. That summer, I did not work at a theatre, but I did work my butt off for eight weeks to become a Tracy Anderson Trainer, and it turned out that job would support me in between shows for the next three years.

This job has been such a huge blessing to me. It has allowed me to do contracts out of the city and come right back to work without missing a beat. At TAM, I am given the opportunity to help strengthen others as I strengthen myself. The classes are physically demanding and the content ever changing, so I am always pushed to grow as a trainer and an athlete. But this job also offers the gift of flexibility. For the last two years, I've had the privilege of performing in the ensemble (and covering the lead) in Anastasia on Broadway, and I have continued to teach classes based on my availability and energy.

Molly Rushing

Molly Rushing

Although I am disappointed that Anastasia is closing on March 31, I feel thankful knowing that I have a job I love waiting for me on April 1. That job does not feel quite as glamorous. Instead of wearing multi-thousand-dollar costumes made head to toe for my body, I will be wearing leggings and tanks. Because our studios are heated, I will be drenched in sweat for hours each day, making makeup and hairstyling potentially pointless. However, there is still so much to look forward to. While I may not be performing for a house of thousands, I will have the chance to connect with and encourage the amazing women I train each day. I never expected to find a job outside of theatre that could be such a fulfilling way to channel my passion and energy, that adds so much value to my life and to others. When I think back to the spring of 2015, I can honestly say that I’m glad I did not book a show that season.

When an actor finds themselves without a show, it can suddenly seem like they no longer have a purpose. We actors often place much of our identity in our resumes. While I’ve come a long way, I will always be fighting that battle. But now I see that when things don’t go the way we wanted, we might actually be led to new opportunities we didn’t know we wanted. Your life is so much more than your resume. Whether you find yourself wearing a gorgeous costume, or sweaty leggings, or an unflattering catering uniform, your life is still full of value and possibility. If we embrace each season and what it has to teach us, we have a far better chance of finding fulfillment in our lives, no matter what costume we wear.

 

Molly Rushing in  Anastasia  (left, with Sissy Bell. Photo by DavyMackNYC)

Molly Rushing in Anastasia (left, with Sissy Bell. Photo by DavyMackNYC)

Moving Up, Down Under

Mo Brady

Tyson Jennette (left, with Tigist Strode)

Tyson Jennette (left, with Tigist Strode)

Every kid who grows up doing theater always dreams of making it to the big time, the top: Broadway. I was no exception. Born and raised in the Bronx, my exposure and access to the Great White Way was just a short trip downtown on the 6 train (I never did see J.Lo, by the way). Pining meets preparation and wishing turns into working on your craft toward that goal. After many years of “putting in my due” on gigs in community theater and summer stock, early morning call times, and driving a van with the set you’ll build and strike on children’s theater tours, I became an Equity member in 2005. This led to more work in regional theater and showcases in New York City and the Equity chorus call audition I attended that changed my life.

Broadway called.

A month-long series of callbacks and work sessions culminated with an offer to be part of a new Broadway show called The Book of Mormon. This show written by some of the creative minds behind “South Park” and the Tony Award-winning Avenue Q. had been in workshops for a few years prior and was ready to hit the main stem. And they wanted me. I would be part of an original Broadway cast, a dream come true. Yes please, sign me up!

I was cast as the Ugandan Male Swing/Mafala understudy. This was a novel concept for me. Sure, I understood what an understudy was and up until that point figured that’s how “the show must go on,” went on. What does a swing mean? Ultimately, when it was all explained I would be an off-stage actor responsible for eleven tracks, covering nine ensemble roles and understudying two principal leads. As daunting as this might seem it would be my Broadway debut and my naiveté of what I was about to walk into helped tremendously. I threw myself into the challenge of the work, learning more about myself while simultaneously memorizing lines, choreography and multiple vocal harmonies for each song. Irony is not lost on the fact that some of the hardest work on Broadway is not always necessarily onstage. The life of a swing ebbs and flows as much as the name denotes. All the information you need to amass and retain has to, in some instances, be at the ready at a moments notice. Compounded with that is the unpredictable nature of mounting a new show on Broadway. Would all this work be in vain if my show doesn’t run long enough to go on in any one of these eleven tracks committed to memory? Would I have technically performed on Broadway then? A goal reached or just slightly out of the grasp of semantic fingertips. Fortunately The Book of Mormon was a hit and nine Tonys later those concerns dissipated.

Tyson Jennette (📸: ambejphotography)

Tyson Jennette (📸: ambejphotography)

Eight years have now passed and The Book of Mormon is still going strong. I have had the opportunity to meet a staggering amount of wonderful people and work with legends in the industry. Over the course of that time I have been able to perform all of those aforementioned tracks in a myriad of combinations. My favorite few is going on for an ensemble track for the matinee and then a lead at the evening show, having a scene with the person you played earlier. Or not being scheduled to perform and then getting a call from stage management that you’ll be on for a track you haven’t done in four years... in two hours. There are not many Broadway shows that come around with the longitudinal fortitude to last like Mormon has and I’m thankful for the opportunity to not only be on Broadway, but thrive. Like those in the business say, it’s a “government gig.” Goal achieved with no end in sight. So, why would you leave?

With any show that runs for several years people come, people go, some return a few times over. Mormon still has a couple of original cast members donning the boards since opening in 2011. I would attribute that to management and their understanding of what we as artists strive for in our careers and personal lives juxtaposed to the needs of the show and the business at hand. Offstage performers are necessary to keep a show running but they always relish for the opportunity to get onstage and do what they love most. Every chance on presents to the powers-that-be their worth as members of the cast and as performers in general. Actors, whether working or otherwise constantly auditioning for other shows or projects to keep momentum going forward or to satiate another part of their creativity. Mormon allows ensemble members and swings to petition for a leave of absence if cast as a principal elsewhere. Giving way for their actors to embody a new character on their career path, this producer practice is a rarity on Broadway which does wonders to keep company morale boosted and vibrant. A few years ago, I was able to go on to play Curtis in Sister Act in Vermont and Mister in The Color Purple in Pennsylvania last year all while having my Broadway home-base family in which to rejoin. I even had the chance to take over Mafala temporarily on Broadway in 2015. Each jaunt away helped breathe new life into the Broadway swing life I knew all too well. But being offstage is still that and after eight years a change was welcomed.

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Broadway called.

Well...sort of. On the heels of awaiting approval from management for a leave of absence to do another show I was offered the role of Mafala, one of the principal leads I cover, in the Australian tour of The Book of Mormon. The amazing news meant that I would no longer be a swing and would be performing nightly as a lead but it also meant that I would be leaving the Broadway company indefinitely. What a decision to make. I’d always wanted to perform on Broadway and here I was doing so for many years. But more complex now is a offer to stand mid-stage and deliver a song well entrenched in the annals of musical theater history for audiences internationally. Hasa di... well you know the rest. I was grateful to the producers and creative team for willingly deciding to part with me as a swing in order to continue to assist the show in a different capacity. This at a point where I yearned for more time onstage. Serendipity has always intervened itself as a part of my life so I already knew the answer.

February 17, 2019: I took my final bow on Broadway, performing onstage that night, incidentally, and singing the last word in the show. Befitting, I guess, since it takes what I sang to leap into an uncertain future from a well stabilized past. Metaphorically speaking of course, no need for them to be literal on your person to have the balls to take a chance.

And on March 20, 2019 is opening night for The Book of Mormon in Brisbane, Australia and I will be officially assuming into my role. Mafala Hatimibi. Moving up, down under.

Tyson Jennette

Tyson Jennette

 Tyson Jennette will be playing the role of Mafala in the The Book of Mormon tour through Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth for the rest of this year. A proud CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Tyson is also an American Sign Language Interpreter who holds a master’s degree from Harvard University. Represented by FirestarterEntertainment.

"I Wouldn't Have Imagined I'd Be Back On Stage."

Mo Brady

by Yhá Mourhia Wright

Yhá Mourhia Wright

Yhá Mourhia Wright

I’ll start by saying that I have not performed on stage in two years - since March 2017. As I began to focus on my filmmaking career more heavily, the demands for it stole me away from auditions. I welcomed this change because I had developed into an anxious auditioner post-grad school. Seriously, I’m already a huge overthinking, overachieving middle-child.

So, in January, when I was presented with the chance to audition for Opportunity, I was already immensely missing theatre and intrigued by the subject matter of the play. Perhaps it’s because I gave myself time to rediscover the joy of being on stage, but this was my first audition in which I truly enjoyed the process and went home feeling full, not horrified and crazed.

Our offers were initially given to us via phone and I have a true artist story that I ain’t too proud to let you in on... when I received the call from writer Stanley Martin, I didn’t recognize the number. “Bill collectors,” I thought. “Nu ughn.”

Just like that, the call went to voicemail. Director Michael Blatt flagged me later in the evening to check my voicemail - I knew it at that moment. Did I just get the… (I gotta do it) Opportunity to be in this play? In fact, I did.

My challenge was to throw myself into work while also doing less thinking and more exploring. We didn’t have an extended rehearsal process so my training and previous experience had to come into play as I approached the role of Ashley.

My questions varied from, “what is she hiding?” to “What’s her favorite color?” and “What the heck does she need?” I’ve never approached a character who speaks what so many of us might have thought - come on, who’s a saint here? - from time to time in this industry.

Yhá Mourhia Wright (right, with Stanley Martin)

Yhá Mourhia Wright (right, with Stanley Martin)

Yet at the core of most artists I know is a little kid who, perhaps, only knew of entertainment as the chosen path or who escaped into their imagination because the real world was too cold or just not as colorful. Daily, people become patrons of the arts, travel near and far to see live theatre, and yet, they have no clue about what happens behind the scenes with these people who dares to put themselves on public display.

I love that Opportunity is comical with a dark reality of the challenges that many of us face be it body image, self-acceptance, aging, colorism, racism, homophobia, sexism, ableism - all dipped in competition. With only one week of rehearsals, by day two, I fell right into the swing of things with my fellow ensemble members. We have the honor of telling a story about some of the many trials each of us face in REAL life.

Back to Ashley, who is an anti-hero that I truly love because “what’s not to love?” Every step of the way, I asked myself what do I know about her and how do I relate to each character in this play? How - in one hour - can I find the joy that Ashley is experiencing by being around people who are like “family” while realizing that being with so many people like her is likely to present some sort of trigger.

It’s like walking down a hall of mirrors. Each day of brought new challenges from the standard, “line?” to losing lines because I finally listened to the words I was saying and felt something new. My process includes writing my lines over and over, using the scene study app to rehearse, and exploring why something in the text hasn’t resonated with me just yet.

This process allows me to find the places that are blocked, the places that I, like Ashley,  might have shut down for the sake of survival in this world. Each time I’ve been challenged with delving deeper into text, I discovered that it’s because the circumstances are actually closer to me than I’d like to admit. Bittersweet.

I consider Opportunity as a theatre-goers chance to take a glimpse into the green room. A chance to listen in on the banter that occurs in the dressing room as lashes are glued on, hair is sprayed into perfection and tan lines are evened by thick makeup. A chance for people to finally see us in our element. It’s funny, it’s brash, and, baby, it’s real. I anticipate that folks will laugh, then their hearts will drop, and many will flinch as they think about that annoying person they always see at the same auditions who is just like a character on stage. Or, at least, that’s what I have experienced from the moment I received my audition sides. How uncanny.

The chance to play the anti-hero that absolutely, for sure, has the Instagram verification stamp of approval and doesn’t reply to direct messages, is invigorating. Three months ago, I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d be back on stage, living into such circumstances, but hey, that’s the nature of what we do in this industry - and there’s “No business, like show business.”

5 Debut Questions - Mean Girls’ Tovi Wayne

Mo Brady

Today on the blog, we welcome Mean Girls ensemblist Tovi Wayne to Broadway and learn about his journey to the Mainstem.

Tovi Wayne

Tovi Wayne

1. What is your name and hometown?

My name is Toviel Wayne but people call Tovi. I’m from Modesto, California. A small town in the Central Valley. (aka Grape Valley) We are known for our good wine and almond orchards.


2. What is your role/track in your Broadway debut?

I have joined the cast of Mean Girls as the new Vacation Swing I am responsible for learning all seven male ensemble tracks.

3. How did you find out you had booked the part?

I found out I booked the job on Friday February 8. I was taking contemporary at Steps on Broadway with the company Ten Hairy Legs. In the middle of class, I got the call from my lovely agent Sofia that I would be making my Broadway Debut. It still doesn’t feel rea. I was dancing down the hallway of Steps in excitement and thrill.


4. What's been the most surprising thing about preparing to perform the show?

The most surprising thing about this process was on the morning of Saturday, March 16. I woke up to a phone call from our stage manager saying that I was going on three days earlier than anticipated. I jumped out of bed, made a pot of coffee and did my homework to get me ready to dance on Broadway. That was a surreal day.

5. What are you looking forward to most about your experience on Broadway?

I’m most excited for/look forward to about being on Broadway has to be the growth that I will achieve as an artist during this beautiful and humbling process. I’m excited to be challenged and always learn something new about what I love to do. Our growth as individuals is never ending and that’s why I love this business.

Tovi Wayne (right, backstage with Brendan Stimson at  Mean Girls )

Tovi Wayne (right, backstage with Brendan Stimson at Mean Girls)

5 Perfect Spots for Pre or Post-Theatre Drinks

Mo Brady

by Mo Brady

We’re always looking for interesting, cool haunts to head to before or after shows. You know the kind of place: bars and restaurants that have a low-key glam vibe, but remind you that you’re seeing theatre in the “The Greatest City of the World.” (Thanks, LMM.) Looking for suggestions of where to head before or after a Broadway show? Here are five recommendations for venues near Broadway great for before or after a show.

Refinery Rooftop

Refinery Rooftop

Refinery Rooftop

63 West 38th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)

Looking for a great place to impress out-of-town guests? Look no further than Refinery Rooftop. With iconic views of the Empire State Building, it’s a great place to bring friends for that quintessential New York City night.

The Rooftop’s signature cocktail list is full of sure winners. As lovers of all things bourbon, the menu features four speciality Old Fashioned’s inspired by Academy Award-winning films. Our pick? The Sky “Fall” which features apple and baking spices. Yum.

Refinery Rooftop

Refinery Rooftop


Trademark Taste + Grind

Trademark Taste + Grind

Trademark Taste + Grind

38 West 36th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)

Get your farm-to-table fix at Trademark Taste + Grind, which features the wares of local farms and farmers in its American regional cuisine. Head to the bar in the back of the restaurant for a cozy booth vibe.

Check out the dessert menu for a slew of decadent treats large enough for sharing. The Big Bananas includes a portion big enough for two (with toasted marshmallow fluff!) And the Cookies & (Boozy) Milk For Two includes a bottle of their Cereal Milk White Russian. Yum.

Trademark Taste + Grind

Trademark Taste + Grind


The Wilson NYC

The Wilson NYC

The Wilson NYC

132 West 27th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)

If you’re thinking brunch before a matinee, check out The Wilson. Although it’s got a fast-paced neighborhood vibe, it’ll be sure to make everyone in your party happy. For those who are on a health kick, the Acai Smoothie is sure to please, and for those who are looking for something more indulgent, the Malted Waffle or Rum Raisin Challah French Toast will be perfect.

For a post-show cocktail, try their signature Gin and Tonic, which features Beefeater gin with cherry blossom tonic, lemon and thyme.

The Wilson NYC

The Wilson NYC


Parker & Quinn

64 West 39th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)

Parker & Quinn

Parker & Quinn

Located in Midtown’s Refinery Hotel, Parker & Quinn is filled with design details that will make you want to settle into a cozy booth for hours. From the “more is better” design aesthetic of the walls to the comfortable leather booths with hand-tacked cushions, the space playful combines class with comfort expertly.

Parker & Quinn’s menu truly has something for everybody. I’m a sucker for a roasted beet salad, but Parker & Quinn take it to a whole other level with the addition of apples and hazelnut-citrus dressing. Their selection of flatbreads is incredible as well, because who doesn’t love a chance to swankify pizza!


Parker & Quinn

Parker & Quinn


Winnie’s Jazz Bar

Winnie’s Jazz Bar

Winnie's Jazz Bar

63 West 38th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)

Located in the lobby of the Refinery Hotel, this space is full of dark corners and comfy couches to sink into. 100 years ago, the building was used as a factory for milliners, with the ground floor acting as a combination tea room for women and restaurant for men. Today, the decor calling back to a prohibition-style speakeasy. The vibe is refined, but relaxed and even features an upright piano with live music.

Winnie’s cocktail menu features a multitude of New York classics, from the Vesper Martini (which includes both vodka and gin) to a rum cocktail inspired by Chet Baker. For those who don’t have too far to travel after their drinks, check out their flights, which feature local bourbon distilleries alongside Irish whiskeys as well as some top-shelf tequilas!


Winnie’s Jazz Bar

Winnie’s Jazz Bar

"Why Zombies?"

Mo Brady

by Josh Canfield

ALIVE! logo.JPG

The first question I almost always get is “Why zombies?” It’s a fair question. The reason is probably not what you’d expect. I wrote the first song from the show about a boyfriend I had. The song was about a human falling in love with a zombie, and he was the zombie. The analogy helped me get my feelings out at a time where I wasn’t fully sure I was ready to fall in love with a “zombie.” The analogy took hold and from their I expanded the story and characters until it became a full length musical with 16 songs.

When I was initially writing the show, I had my sights set on the New York Musical Festival. I had seen a few shows at the festival and knew that it would be the perfect place to debut Alive! Of course, that’s harder said than done. I submitted two times before this third try, but with persistence, being open to change, and bringing on the right people to work with, my dream became a reality.  

Josh Canfield

Josh Canfield

The process to get the show to a full production this summer is overwhelming and exciting all in the same breath.  I’m having so much fun working on bringing the right team to lead this show.  Already on board is Kaitlin Shaw as casting director (Tara Rubin Casting) and Taylor Peckham as Music Director (Summer: The Donna Summer Musical). The part that’s difficult is the raising of funds. It costs roughly $80,000 to put this whole thing on at NYMF.  It’s an overwhelming number for a new writer/producer. I’m currently looking for producers, investors and donations to help make this show a success at the festival and beyond. 

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that my show would be chosen as one of twelve to represent new musicals in New York this year. I love being able to work on a show solely as the writer, since I’m usually on the acting side of things. Currently, I’m on tour with Falsettos, so it’s a little crazy trying to get ready for Alive! while I’m not in New York City, but thankfully I have amazing people around me that are helping and supporting me (I”m looking at you Hunter Ryan Herdlicka). 

Simmering ‘Til It’s “Too Darn Hot.”

Mo Brady

Kiss Me, Kate at Studio 54

by Mo Brady

The company of  Kiss Me, Kate  (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The company of Kiss Me, Kate (Photo by Joan Marcus)

At a preview of the new Broadway production of Kiss Me, Kate, the audience at Broadway’s Studio 54 leapt to its feet at the culmination of the Act II opener, “Too Darn Hot.” Sure, they had only sat down after intermission less than ten minutes earlier, but in that time, they’d been wowed by the virtuosic company of Kiss Me, Kate.

As staged by choreographer Warren Carlyle, “Too Darn Hot” is a showcase for the stamina of his athletic ensemble. Carlyle stages with finesse, never making a moment more than it needs to be to entertain. Thanks to dance arrangements by David Chase, the familiar song builds in unexpected ways, allowing the staging to simmer at a steady boiling point for minutes on end.

The ensemble of Kiss Me, Kate is stacked with Broadway veterans, each expertly aware of how to imbue non-speaking roles with personality. In both fully staged dances and short transitions climbing backstage catwalks, the ensemble breathes life into their performances and provide a fully-realized world for the principal roles to embody. This 14-member ensemble is truly working at the top of their game.

One of the joys of watching a gargantuan production number such as “Too Darn Hot” is that there is time to watch every single actor onstage at some point in the song. Watching the company tackle this mammoth beast of a song, I found myself being swept away in a seductive flirtation by Tanya Haglund, a coy cross by Sherisse Springer and a no-holds barred thwack of the arms by Preston Truman Boyd.

Will Burton, Rick Faugno, Stephanie Styles and Corbin Bleu in  Kiss Me, Kate  (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Will Burton, Rick Faugno, Stephanie Styles and Corbin Bleu in Kiss Me, Kate (Photo by Joan Marcus)

When performing the show-within-a-show, a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, the ensemble trades its jazz-infused movement for a more classical vocabulary. In this choreographic style, the company also shines, particularly in Act I’s penultimate number, “Cantiamo D’Amore.” In this incredible feast of movement, six of the company’s dancers balance their bodies in and on the rims of open wine barrels. Haley Fish, Erica Mansfield and Christine Cornish Smith demonstrate extreme poise and flexibility, while Will Burton, Sam Strasfeld and Travis Waldschmidt securely guide them with strength and agility. Again, the movements perfectly suit the moment, never being more than necessary while still entertaining and exciting the audience.

One of the show’s flashiest choreographic spectacles also lives in the world of The Taming of the Shrew. “Tom, Dick or Harry” is a showcase for a spitfire Stephanie Styles accompanied by three athletic male suitors: Lucentio (Corbin Bleu), Gremio (Will Burton) and Hortensio (Rick Faugno). Burton, who most recently played artist-turned-polka contest winner Ambrose Kemper in Hello, Dolly!, shines in the number, gliding across the stage with a technical agility rarely seen on a Broadway stage. He is followed by Faugno, whose soaring vocals and kinetic movements provide equally awe-inspiring moments. 

While Kiss Me, Kate marks Bleu’s fourth outing on the Rialto, this performance as Bill Calhoun/Lucentio solidifies him one of Broadway’s most talented triple threats. In addition to his expertly executed choreography in “Tom, Dick or Harry,” his tap dancing solo in “Too Darn Hot” stands out as another of the production’s many highlights.

Kiss Me, Kate is undeniably a classic musical theatre show. From its extended musical interludes to its authentic Shakespearean dialogue, the show moves at a slow but steady pace throughout. Yet, this production never feels like it has overstayed its welcome. In fact, between Kelli O’Hara’s unparalleled vocals and the ensemble’s remarkable audacity of movement, I lost track of the many times I audibly gasped during the show.

James T. Lane and the company of  Kiss Me, Kate  (Photo by Joan Marcus)

James T. Lane and the company of Kiss Me, Kate (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Staying Fit on Tour with The Lightning Thief - Part 2

Mo Brady

by Sam Leicht

Two and a half months in and tour is the bomb. Jumping from city to city is challenging and exciting and I kind of love it. New York culture makes you feel like you can never be productive enough. Any moment of time not spent on furthering your career in some way feels like a moment wasted. Being on the road, so much of our time is dictated for us. We need to be at the airport at this time, fight call starts an hour before the show, understudy rehearsals will be all afternoon. By no means is life slower on tour, but taking away the “go, go, go” stress of NYC has actually made me more productive. It’s so counterintuitive, but focusing on “less is more” is giving me better results, and I’m going to try to keep that in mind when I get back to NYC in July.

This month I wanted to outline some techniques for creating your own workouts on the road. Hotel gyms run the gamut in terms of equipment availability, but you can get a killer workout with even the simplest of gyms by being deliberate about workout types.

The first thing we need to understand when writing workouts for ourselves is that routine is the enemy. If you’re someone who goes to the gym and does the same workout every time, I get it. For most of us, coming up with a gym routine is stressful enough the first time and there’s no way we’re going to risk looking stupid by trying new things. The problem with these routines though is that our bodies are super smart, and if we do the same fitness routine every time we go to the gym, we’re going to stop seeing results. In a fully equipped gym, we have a vast number of exercises we can cycle between. On the road, the best option for varying your workouts is changing the type of workout you’re doing.

Let’s go through a couple of workout types you can throw around to spice up your gym time. I’ll give an example and explanation of each type of workout. Just know that for each of these styles there aren’t really hard and fast rules. Be creative and have fun!


Sam Leicht

Sam Leicht

AMRAP

AMRAP stands for “as many rounds as possible”. Normally we would set a time domain of 8 to 12 minutes, and try to maintain a consistent pace throughout. You can add any number of movements to this workout type.

10 min AMRAP 
10 burpees
10 dumbbell goblet squats

Make sure to count the number of rounds you’re able to finish in the 10 minutes of work. Measuring our workouts allows us to stay focused and purposeful.


EMOM

EMOM stands for “every minute on the minute”. In an EMOM you do a set amount of work in that minute, and if you finish that work early, you rest for the remainder of the minute. Once the second minute starts, you do the set amount of work again and rest for the remainder of the minute and repeat.

EMOM 15min: 
5 air squats
5 pushups

Hopefully the air squats and pushups take you about 35 seconds and you’re able to rest for 25 seconds. When that second minute starts, you do the air squats and pushups again and continue this pattern for 15 minutes. EMOM’s are sneaky. They start easy but as you get fatigued and the work takes 45 seconds to finish, you then only get 15 seconds of rest. I’d suggest making your EMOM anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.


Sam Leicht

Sam Leicht

RFT




RFT stands for “rounds for time”. This type of workout is pretty straightforward. Put two to three movements together and say that you’re going to finish a certain number of rounds as fast as possible.

5 rounds for time: 
30 sit ups
20 weighted lunges
10/arm dumbbell shoulder press







Interval

Interval training involves choosing a time domain for you to work and rest. The goal here is for the “work” interval to be high intensity because you’re giving yourself built in rest to recover. I generally do intervals with one movement.

5 Rounds:
1 min running on treadmill (Speed 10)
1 min rest

When creating interval workouts you can sub in any time domains. You could work for 3 minutes, rest for 2 minutes. Work for 2 minutes, rest for 4 minutes. “TABATA” is a common interval that is 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. Tabata is only a total of 4 minutes, but it’s killer. Do tabata push-ups and try to do the same amount of pushups in the last round as you did in the first round. Your pecs and biceps will thank me.


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Chipper


These workouts go straight through a number of movements for time.

For Time:
1 mile run
100 push ups
100 sit ups
100 air squats

There’s nothing fancy about a chipper. You chip away at the big number of reps you need to finish by doing maybe five reps at a time.

These are just five ways to vary your workouts and there are MANY more options. By varying our workout types, we’re limiting how much equipment we need to get good workouts. I can promise you, implementing these workout types to your gym programming will provide amazing results. Keep an eye out for my post next month where I’ll be talking about staying healthy on the road!


PS. In my last post I promised to give an update from my first time going on as Percy, and it was UNREAL. Theatre is amazing and fun y’all!

"The Universe Doesn't Make Mistakes."

Mo Brady

by Marialena Rago

Kevin Smith Kirkwood

Kevin Smith Kirkwood

“I think the universe doesn’t make mistakes when it brings people together,” says Kevin Smith Kirkwood, original cast member of Broadway’s Kinky Boots. “From the wonderful crew at the Hirschfeld, to the front of house, orchestra, and the entire company, Kinky Boots was truly a family affair.”

This April, Kinky Boots ends its six-year run with 2,507 regular performances and 34 previews, and Kirkwood has been there for all of them. “It’s been the most amaxing ride being a part of this show from the workshop to Chicago to all these fabulous years on Broadway,” Kirkwood says.

Kirkwood heard of the Cindy Lauper and Harvey Fierstein production the way a lot of Broadway actors do, an announcement. “I was doing my best Seaweed in a summer production of Hairspray in New Hampshire when the announcement came out. I remember several friends said to me, ‘You know you have to do this show, right?’ Well, when I got back to New York City that fall, my agent at the time got a request for me to come in and audition.”

Wearing an orange kid sized shirt that had a guitar pick on the front with the caption ‘PICK ME’, Kirkwood auditioned to be one of the Angels. He sang Celine Dion’s cover of Tina Turner’s “River Deep Mountain High” which earned him a callback to the dance call. “It seemed like every dancer in New York was [at the dance call]. Well, I did what I could. But truth be told, I left that audition thinking, ‘Ok boo, you did your best. But you probably won’t get cast from that audition so let’s move on.’”

Kevin Smith Kirkwood (second from right, with Kyle Post, Paul Canaan, Kyle Taylor Parker and Joey Taranto)

Kevin Smith Kirkwood (second from right, with Kyle Post, Paul Canaan, Kyle Taylor Parker and Joey Taranto)

But he was wrong. After a few more dance calls, an Angels’ vocal work session, and a round of final callbacks, he earned a spot in the original cast. “Which goes to show, in this business, when it’s right, its right,” says Kirkwood. “So just show up, be your best you, and let the chips fall where they may.”

Throughout his time in Kinky Boots, Kirkwood has played Lola, Simon Sr., Angel, the referee and has been in the ensemble. Balancing all the roles was easy for him since he had been a swing earlier in his career and he welcomed the idea since he was in the show for so long. Being a part of a show for an extended period of time can also be creatively draining. Instead of leaving a show he loved, he created a solo cabaret show in honor of his idol, Whitney Huston. He called it Classic Whitney: Alive! And the show sold out at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theatre. He says the success of the cabaret “has been more than I ever imagined”.

Over those six years, Kirkwood was also exposed to a lot of celebrities making their Broadway debut as either Charlie or Lola. Some include Dancing With the Stars Pro Mark Ballas, American Idol Winner David Cook, Panic at the Disco! frontman Brendan Urie, and recently NFL Legend Mr. Tikki Barber. But the success of the show wasn’t the star power, it was the message. “I think the show resonates with audiences on so many levels. First off, and on first glance, Kinky Boots is a vibrant, colorful, fun, pop-rock confection of a musical! It’s well written and crafted, brilliantly staged, and the level of talent that graces that stage nightly from the cast is downright infectious!  But, then Kinky surprises you with the message. A lot of people can relate to having non-resolved father issues or not living up to their parents’ expectations.” 

Kevin Smith Kirkwood

Kevin Smith Kirkwood

“Also, the story of two people from different worlds who manage to come together and see their similarities I think resonates, especially in these currently divided social and political times. And finally, the idea that we should all love ourselves enough to just be who you wanna be’ really hits home in an inspirational way. I love feeling the positive energy of the audience every night during the finale. Sometimes people just jump up and dance. And it’s wonderful to see.”

As for the shows lasting legacy, Kirkwood believes this: “I think Kinky Boots’ legacy will be that it was a fun musical with a beautiful message that came along at a time where it was needed. It inspired a lot of love, positivity, and good energy into people and the world and also managed to snag a few pieces of Broadway history. Not too shabby, Kinky!”    

 

 

 

“I Hope I Get It.”

Mo Brady

by Abigail Charpentier

 

Mark DiConzo

Mark DiConzo

Ask any actor and they will tell you one of the most challenging aspects of their chosen career is auditioning. While the payoff is very rewarding, it can be straining for performers to get to that point. Every audition is different and each person experiences it in their own way, but their approaches are similar.

One of the most predictable things about auditioning is the nervousness before entering the room. Although this may not go away, each person can find ways to make these jitters less extreme. Often, this involves preparing and creating a positive mindset.

Before an audition, Mark DiConzo tries to spend as much time with the material as he can. Whether the audition is for a role in the theater or on television, he uses an app called “Linelearner” to familiarize himself with the script sides. After recording the entirety of a scene, he can mute his lines, adjust the playback speed and listen to lines while commuting around the city.

“The more I can have the script or music committed to muscle memory, the more I am able to be as organic as possible in the room allowing any physicality, blocking or acting choices to be fully committed and believable,” DiConzo said.

Besides from doing his homework, he tries to make sure he’s had enough sleep, is well-hydrated and in the healthiest possible physical and mental state. He goes to the audition and gives himself a pep talk: “You know that you’ve done all the work, you know the lines, you know the music, you know the choreography, now be you and crush it!”

He then goes into what he refers to as the “breath phase,” where he tries “to remain, centered, calm and focused on one thing: being the best possible solution to the problem in the room.”

Aurelia Michael focuses on creating a positive mindset before an audition. After she spent 10 years as a hip-hop dancer who attended auditions that weren't exciting and did jobs that weren't fulfilling, she stepped away for several years. Now, she does morning meditation and affirmations to reminds herself “that my job is to audition and booking the job is my vacation.”

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She tries to prepare everything before the day of the audition, from the song to her outfit to her bag, which allows her to focus on “the calm before the storm.”

“You have to know who you are and focus on bringing to the table what you have and not apologizing for what you don't,” Michael said. “Before entering the audition room I remind myself that this isn't about booking a job, but about sharing my gift with another human being. As opposed to ‘What can you do for me?’ I enter the room with ‘What can I share with you?’”

Michael Millan believes that it’s important to coach every audition you get. Not only is this a chance to go over lines and direct yourself, but a great way to get a second opinion and run through different choices. He also suggests finding a supportive community of fellow actor friends around that can help you go in the room feeling solid and steady.

“I recently moved to Los Angeles and was so surprised to quickly meet other actors that were more than willing to work with me on upcoming auditions,” Millan said. “You just have to put yourself out there and deal with the somewhat awkward feeling of emoting in front of your friends in your living room.”

Although preparing for auditions can take a lot of effort, it is only part of the struggle. Whether it is a single audition or a set of callbacks, they can be both physically and mentally draining.

Collins Conley recalls her most difficult set of auditions was for Mean Girls. In January and February of 2017, she went through nine rounds of auditions and callbacks that began with challenging dance calls, followed by reading scenes for multiple characters and finally learning music from the show.

Conley described the Mean Girls Lab original ECC on January 3, 2017: Around 400 girls were brought in and said their name before doing a heel stretch. All but 100 girls were cut by using only that information. After that was the full dance combination. It started with that heel stretch, but adding a promenade while in that position and ending with a triple inside turn to a center split.

“It was one of the most fun dance calls, but also one of the most difficult technically that I’ve been asked to perform, and I did that dance call five more times over the course of the next month,” Conley said.

Between those dance calls, she was asked to sing from her book and prepare 20 pages of scenes. At the final callback she sang her song, at 10 am, multiple times, while applying notes from the music director and then learned a song from the show while in the room.

Mike Millan

Mike Millan

“It was a grueling month that demanded a lot of me and pushed my talents to the limit,” she said. “It was definitely the most difficult audition process I have ever been through, but getting the call that I got it 24 hours after that last callback was the most exciting payoff!”

Millan’s audition for A Chorus Line, although a “wonderfully humbling experience,” was his most difficult. At the beginning of the audition, the choreographer came in and asked if anyone didn’t already know the opening choreography. Millan and the handful of others who were unfamiliar were taken to a separate room to quickly learn it, while the rest of the dancers waited.

“It was the first time that I realized that I had a lot of work to do and that I maybe didn’t know everything,” he said. “That I was stepping into a community of people that have all been working at this dream for years and years at 100 percent and that I was just getting started and had a long way to go.”

DiConzo has always pursued television and film auditions in addition to Broadway and theater. Recently, he was up for a guest star role on Blue Bloods and there were three rounds of auditions along the way. Each audition there were fewer and fewer other actors but more people, lights, cameras and intensity along the journey.

“It’s always difficult for us as actors to not ‘hope I get it,’ but as we inch closer and closer to booking, emotions do start to come into play,” DiConzo said. “In this case, I found it progressively more difficult along the way because there was no squelching my hoping of getting it.”

Landing a guest star and recurring role on TV is a dream of DiConzo, so it was difficult to not let that pressure on himself take precedence. When nerves start surfacing in addition to self-doubt, he reverts to his “breath phase” so he can try to do his most centered and focused work in the room. He ended up booking the guest spot. It has further invigorated his next career goal of landing a guest recurring role.

For many, like DiConzo, booking the part is the most rewarding part of auditioning. However, many things can be taken away from these experiences – like overcoming the challenging of quick preparation turnaround.

“Auditions are always a challenge and sometimes the materials stretch far beyond what we may think we are our capable of, but that’s the joy of it all, going in prepared, confident and proving new things to yourself while trying to be the best possible solution in the room,” he said.

Collins Conley

Collins Conley

For Michael, the best thing about auditioning is being able to be herself.

“There have been times where I tried to be what I thought casting wanted, and that never works,” Michael said. “So sometimes, I don't land the part, but I did live in the moment the way I wanted to. Sometimes it won't work, but when it does the victory is so sweet.”

Conley, who spends most of her preparation time taking dances classes and touching up her skills, enjoys learning new choreography through auditions and working with talented people.

“Auditioning has been a way for me to keep training and growing by pushing myself in new styles, learning to pick up choreography quickly and being able to execute it well with minimal rehearsal time,” Conley said. “Gaining those skills, seeing myself grow with every audition and then walking away from the room when I know I nailed it is a wonderfully rewarding feeling.”

For so many like Millan, auditioning serves as a platform not only to find work but to grow as a person and performer.

“I think the most rewarding thing about auditions is feeling yourself grow. It’s an opportunity for you to be better than the last time, and I think as long as you are growing as an artist and learning from your mistakes, you’re growing as a person and there’s nothing more rewarding.”

POWER: A Woman’s Essence

Mo Brady

by Kellen Stancil

Kellen Stancil

Kellen Stancil

Uncontrollably jumping up and down out of my seat while simultaneously pounding the table in front of me. This was my innate reaction seeing a segment of POWER come to fruition. In the hustle of putting this video together, I was completely unaware of the impact we were going to make on people, especially women! It wasn’t until I got a chance to sit and witness the tenacity, confidence and enjoyment these women exuded that made me realize we were doing exactly what we were meant to do.

POWER is an International Women’s Day dance concept video. International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.

The video was created and produced by Josh Drake and myself. I had the honor of being the choreographer and working with an incredible team: Weston G. Wetzel on lighting, Rachel Estabrook on makeup, our amazing Assistant Director Mark Diconzo, my Assistant Choreographer Chris Jarosz, both my production associates Brad Schlagcheck and Stephanie Bissonnette, and my best friend Josh Drake who filmed, edited and directed the video. We filmed in Long Island City at FD Photo Studio in one day. As the choreographer it was my responsibility to facilitate the narrative and message through movement, staging, and focus.

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Originally Josh asked me to be involved. We laugh now, because little did he know, asking me would turn this into a full production music video! Instantly I was honored, but knew that if I was to get involved I wanted to do it right. Understanding what International Women’s Day stands for, I wanted to empower, celebrate and inspire women in our lives, our community and in this world.

We juggled many ideas but landed on a solid choice: shifting the perspective of male dominant jobs, lifestyles and activities. In my eyes, a balanced world is a better world. How can we forge a more gender balanced nature if all we do is acknowledge only one gender when they hit success?

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Women are just as strong, independent, resilient, intelligent, courageous, and determined as men. The video isn’t about dimming the light on a male’s success, but simply sharing the light and celebrating women’s achievements. My inspiration came from all the powerful women in my life that are CEOs of their own businesses, top leaders of their departments, ambassadors, principals, leading women, casting directors, top athletes, artists, and especially mothers.

As dancers we have the gift to communicate through our movement and emotions. We may not all speak the same language, but we can feel one another, be moved by one another and see one another. Dance has a way of changing lives and perspectives with no exchanges of words. It’s the closest to our own heartbeat you can get, and that is what I wanted this video to do!

With all that said, none of this could have been done without all the gracious, talented and powerful women that were involved. These ladies came ready to make a difference and stand up for themselves and other women. In a business where you are constantly in competition and compared to the women next to you, you would think that the day of this shoot would carry that same tension. It was the complete opposite! The energy and atmosphere of that day was positive, uplifting and encouraging. It brought me to tears to see all these women enjoy this platform to celebrate themselves, each other, and every single woman in this world. The goal was to spark change, acknowledge women’s achievements and motivate others to see women as equals. I believe we did that, especially when I received this text from my distant cousin:

“WOW! Everything about this was powerful… And I felt empowered watching it! Seriously it was amazing… I have chicken skin!!!”

Thank you to all the women involved, you are queens in my eyes!

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Why “I'll Never Make It”

Mo Brady

by Patrick Oliver Jones

Patrick Oliver Jones

Patrick Oliver Jones

At the end of the first season of my podcast, Why I’ll Never Make It, I asked Joey Fatone to be the season finale guest as we headed into a summer-long break from the show. He graciously accepted and throughout the phone interview was surprisingly open and candid about the highs and lows of his career. He shared personal anecdotes of touring with *NSYNC and failing in auditions. At one point, though, the sound of wind and the rustling of bags could be heard. I asked him what was going on and it turns out he was at Chick-fil-A getting some lunch. While Joey was not the first guest to call into the show, he was the first and only one to do so from a fast food drive-thru.

Such was the laidback and easy-going atmosphere of much of that first season. Guests ranged from Broadway actors and singers to directors and even a dramaturg. Most of them questioned the name of the podcast: “Why I’ll Never Make It.” When I first had the idea for a podcast in August of 2017 and asked fellow actor Dewey Caddell to join me, we didn’t really know what we wanted to talk about. I originally called it “Podcast & Crew,” as I love puns and the play on words, but as we worked on our pilot episode, we hit upon a segment where we talked about the reasons we won’t make it and what keeps us from success in our careers. The few people we let listen to that initial episode all loved that segment the most, and thus was born the title of the podcast. Every reason for why we won’t make it, though, is always followed by what keeps us going in this business and why we don’t want to be anywhere else.

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As I headed into season two last September, Dewey moved on to greener pastures, leaving me to helm the show on my own. I also had the "brilliant" idea of going from episodes every other week to putting one out every week. Little did I realize all the work Dewey had been doing in editing the episodes and posting them online.

Now, it's a one-man band as I handle the producing on my own as well as marketing, editing, writing, and, oh yeah, interviewing, which is actually the easiest and least time-consuming of all the hats I wear in making this podcast. Budgets are usually non-existent in the world of podcasting, unless you’re a big name celebrity or a part of the “Serial” franchise. So investiments along the way have been small but strategic, from buying microphones and Facebook ads to upgrading the hosting service from Dewey’s personal website to the more reliable Podbean.

However, the biggest commitment required for this, and I assume any podcast, is time. I’ve never been one who was great at managing it. I was the actor who went from audition to audition or show to show, learning what I needed at the time but rarely getting ahead of the process to prepare for roles and opportunities down the road. Having a podcast, though, has forced me to think ahead and plan out interviews and social media posts along with setting aside the time needed to edit and release each weekly episode.

Patrick Oliver Jones

Patrick Oliver Jones

But with all the stress and busyness that has come with season two, I’ve loved working on this show and adjusting the format to become more focused and insightful with the kinds of guests that come on and the topics we discuss. Artists have joined me to talk about the emotional, financial, and even medical issues that hold them back. It’s always interesting to hear their own take on what “making it” means to them and if they are, in fact, achieving it. “Why I’ll Never Make It” may sound negative, but it’s actually an honest look at the realities of this business and that despite the constant rejection inherent with auditions, we still keep going and loving our work as artists.

That continues to be my journey with this podcast: loving each conversation with those who are grateful for their successes and learning from the setbacks as well. I can’t wait for the upcoming Tony Awards season, as I will once again be interviewing those working on nominated shows and sharing in the excitement of all the Broadway buzz.

Above all, I am exceedingly humbled as the podcast has gained followers and engaged listeners who now reach out to me personally to say how much they appreciate the discussions we have, reminding them that as artists we are all in this together no matter the trails and tribulations we face. Going forward, I couldn’t wish for more than that… to have an impact on this ever-changing but vibrant theater community, adding a lighthearted voice of acknowledgement and inspiration to keep going.

"Feelings Are Often Inconvenient but They're Never Wrong."

Mo Brady

by Stephen Brower

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Recently I had a really tough show. I was feeling a lot of pressure (self inflicted), making a lot of little mistakes, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get out of my head. I cried during intermission. And as I was wiping my eyes and changing my clothes, I caught myself in the mirror thinking up mantras... “You’re amazing, stay calm, be better than this.” And you know what stuck?

Not a fucking thing.

I’m allowed to be sad, frustrated and too hard on myself. I’m allowed to fail at brushing it off. Tricking myself with a pep talk was not going to make things better. Accepting my feelings for what they were and doing my job anyway; that’s a game changer.

We often think of success and happiness as synonymous. But you can’t always be happy. That doesn’t mean you’re failing, it means you’re growing. If you can respect your feelings *shame free* and proceed with integrity... well that’s very, very cool and I hope to be more like you.

Feelings are often inconvenient but they’re never “wrong.” They are your compass. Walk towards something more fulfilling than “perfection,” it’s unattainable and uninteresting.

5 Debut Questions: Waitress’ Melody A. Betts

Mo Brady

Today on the blog, we welcome Waitress ensemblist Melody A. Betts to Broadway and learn about her journey to the Mainstem. 

Melody A. Betts

Melody A. Betts

1. What is your name and hometown?

Melody A Betts from Chicago, IL.

2. What is your role/track in your Broadway debut?

Ensemble/Nurse Norma/Becky cover

3. How did you find out you had booked the part?

I was at home in Chicago when my manager and agent phoned me on a three way call. They asked me how I’d feel about being on Broadway and I was like “SHUT. YOUR. MOUTH! Stop playing with me!”

4. What's been the most surprising thing about preparing to perform the show?

I’m always surprised at how theater magic is created specifically for each show. Waitress has so many magical moments that, now that I’m apart of the show, I know how they’re being done and what’s being used. It’s been quite a surprise!

5. What are you looking forward to most about your experience on Broadway?

I am so excited that Shoshana Bean is joining our cast. She is absolutely amazing and is acting for her life. I think people will truly enjoy her take on the character Jenna and I cannot wait to play Becky alongside her Jenna.

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5 Debut Questions: Hamilton’s Johanna Moise

Mo Brady

Today on the blog, we welcome Hamilton ensemblist Johanna Moise to Broadway and learn about her journey to the Mainstem.

Johanna Moise

Johanna Moise

1. What is your name and hometown?

My name is Johanna Moise and I am from Miramar, Florida.


2. What is your role/track in your Broadway debut?

I am a Vacation Swing at Hamilton on Broadway.

3. How did you find out you had booked the part?

I got a call from the Hamilton Team letting me know I got the job on January 2nd and I moved up here to start work that week!

4. What's been the most surprising thing about preparing to perform the show?

The most surprising part has been how much capacity my brain has for storage haha. This is my first time swinging a show and it’s hard work but the team truly has made me feel so prepared and excited to go into work everyday!

5. What are you looking forward to most about your experience on Broadway?

I’ve always wanted to be on Broadway and Hamilton was always my dream show. I’m so excited I get to tell this story and go onstage and perform alongside some of the best people in the world. I’m so grateful to be here in this moment, truly.

Johanna Moise

Johanna Moise

"I'm So Proud of My Body."

Mo Brady

by Blair Goldberg

Blair Goldberg

Blair Goldberg

I wouldn’t call violently throwing up in an Herve Leger wrap dress glamorous or fun or the way I pictured my last performance ever as Nicola to be, but here we are. In this moment, I am ten weeks pregnant, but nobody knows yet. I have about fifteen people in the audience tonight who came to see me knowing that the show is closing soon and it could be the last time I’ll have a scheduled Nicola date (I‘m an understudy and usually in the ensemble). The finale dress is tight and I can see an obvious bump, but I’ve done my best to reinforce it with a strong layer of Spanx! I have about two more minutes before my cue for the finale, and I clean myself up, put on a smile, and walk to the stage. I knew in my heart that this would be my last Nicola performance—we are closing in four months and she has no scheduled dates off coming up. I am about two weeks away from telling everyone at work that I am pregnant with my second baby.

When I do tell everyone, they will probably have the other understudy for Nicola be the first option from here on out, and I’m completely fine with that, as the costumes are not the most comfortable or flattering when pregnant! I had taken a moment to myself earlier at the top of the show to express my gratitude to God for the incredible gift of getting to perform a lead role on Broadway over the past few years—a bucket list item for me since I was a little girl. But now, here I am at the end of the show, praying I don’t reek of vomit as I take my final Nicola bow.

Cut forward to today, I am twenty weeks pregnant, I’m still in the ensemble of Kinky Boots on Broadway, and I still understudy the role of Nicola (but now only in an emergency situation, which hasn’t happened yet, thankfully). I’ve been here for over three years now, and by the time we close in April, I’ll have done about 1,600 performances between Broadway and the First National Tour. While on the tour, I became pregnant with my daughter Lyla, who is now three-and-a-half years old. I performed pregnant with her until I was about five months, at which point I left and went back to New York City to finish the pregnancy. I had a year of maternity leave with her, at the end of which I would be able to re-join the tour if I wished. About six weeks after I gave birth to her, I was so lucky to receive a phone call offering me the very same track on Broadway, which had just opened up. The timing was remarkable, and I truly believe that Lyla was my ticket back to Broadway (I made my Broadway debut as a child performer in 1999 in Annie Get Your Gun with Bernadette Peters). I returned to work when Lyla was about eleven weeks old and have been there ever since. I knew pretty quickly after having Lyla that I wanted to have another baby down the line, but I was very conscious of timing and didn’t want to leave the same show twice. I decided we would wait until the show was closing, or at least close to closing to try for another baby.

Blair Goldberg

Blair Goldberg

However, the amazing thing about Kinky Boots was that it just kept going! Every time there was even a hint of a rumour that we might be closing, we didn’t and we weren’t. We were all thrilled about this, and I was happy to wait longer for baby number two. Then, about two and a half years into my run on Broadway, I really started getting the itch to grow my family. It didn’t seem like we were on the brink of closing any time soon, and I didn’t want my two children to have a huge age gap. The run of Kinky Boots up to that point had exceeded everything past my wildest dreams, so I knew in my heart that if I needed to take another maternity leave, I would be content with that decision. While my first pregnancy happened very quickly and easily, I had some real difficulty getting pregnant with my second. Many months came and went with no luck. Then, it was announced in late September by our generous producers, with six months notice, that we would be closing in April 2019.

At this point, I was almost seven months into trying to get pregnant with baby number two with still no success. Despite knowing the closing date was coming in six months, we decided to just keep trying and let the chips fall where they may in terms of timing. Two months later, in November 2018, I became pregnant. We were cautiously ecstatic and spent the holidays celebrating that our family was growing! I did the math in my head and was able to figure out that I would be only four weeks more pregnant with this baby than my first when the show was slated to close vs when I stopped working the first time. I was hopeful that this would work out timing wise, and I’m happy to say that in thanks to the wonderful support of the Kinky team, I will be closing the show with my cast mates, at which point I’ll be 25 weeks pregnant.

Doing the same show four years later with a totally different pregnancy has been really interesting and surprising in a few ways! The first trimester was pretty similar to my first—I had some pretty bad morning sickness that lasted into the night during work. I secretly and swiftly threw up backstage when I needed to, and tried to keep myself turned around when getting changed into my costumes in front of my cast mates to hide my growing belly. It has definitely been more challenging this time around, energy wise, to keep up with the show’s demands.

Blair Goldberg (right, with daughter Lyla)

Blair Goldberg (right, with daughter Lyla)

As I get further along in my pregnancy, it’s not so much the on stage time that is challenging me, but rather the quick changing of costumes/shoes/boots and running to cues backstage that has been tiring me out a lot quicker. I have to remind myself that I am four years older than I was with my first pregnancy, and though I am strong, I am also growing a human and that takes a lot of energy! I also simply don’t have the same time to sleep in and mull about as I did with my first pregnancy. I have to be up early in the morning to take my daughter to preschool, and I spend the entire afternoon with her after school, and that’s all before going to work. With my first pregnancy on tour, I could sleep and chill all day and really make sure I wasn’t overexerting myself. It’s just not possible with this pregnancy, and though I was prepared for it mentally, until you go through it, it’s difficult to really imagine how exhausting it is to take care of a human, grow another human, and have a full time physically demanding job all at the same time! Regardless, I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I consider myself as lucky as a jackpot lottery winner to be living my dream both professionally and personally at the same time.

My body also changed differently this time around than the first. With my first pregnancy, I think I took a longer time to really pop, but when I did it was more rapid and more pronounced. This time around, I just felt overall bloated for a longer time. I could also get away a little longer being a Nicola understudy with this pregnancy, as I am carrying very low this time, whereas with my first pregnancy, my bump was very high at an earlier time. But then, so much is the same. Those little kicks I feel during the show bring me that same joy and getting to be pregnant as a factory worker again has been so much fun to work into the show. My cast loves working it into the show as well and we all have so many laughs and fun times referencing Maggie (my character’s name) being knocked up in the factory! It’s also amazing how much the audience picks up on in the ensemble. People at the stage door, now that I’m more obviously pregnant, congratulate me all the time!

Looking back on my time at Kinky Boots, the fact that my two babies will have come into this world through this show is something I will forever be grateful for and in awe of. I could’ve been in any show these last four-and-a-half years, but the fact that my children’s first sounds in the womb were the music and lyrics to this show—one that has such a heartwarming message of acceptance and love is just incredible to me. My daughter took some of her first steps on the stage of the Hirschfeld, and I felt my son’s first kicks during the finale of Kinky Boots.

I’ve been so blessed throughout both pregnancies to have such wonderful support from my cast mates, bosses and especially our phenomenal producers, Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig, who are truly heaven sent. The fact that our show is closing is bittersweet. I will forever cherish the memories we’ve made as a company, and I know I will cry a lot of tears as we near the end. But I also know that I will leave the Hirschfeld with a profound sense of pride- I am so proud of my body, for what it has accomplished over the years. It has sustained me in an extremely vocally demanding show for four and a half years with no injuries and it has also given me my (soon to be) complete family.

I hope this story has inspired others to know that you can have both — a family and a career in the theater. It is something I think a lot of people are afraid of, but I want them to know that It is possible, and it is hard, but it is absolutely worth it.

Creating Harmony

Mo Brady

by Brian Calì

Brian Cali (left, with Jake Odmark)

Brian Cali (left, with Jake Odmark)

Harmony On Broadway, or the idea of it, first came to me last year. Jake was asked to arrange an a cappella version of “Unchained Melody” for our friend Jennifer Sanchez’s solo show, and I was part of the quartet that sang his arrangement. As we were in the middle of running it, I was thinking to myself... ”I bet we could make a full-on show using Jake’s arrangements alone.” Easy breezy, no? It was definitely nothing new to him. He’s been arranging for as long as I’ve known him and even before that. He was the music director of an a cappella group in college and then created his own group here in New York City called Apollo Link. That group had a lot of success on Youtube, as well as performing here in New York and across the country.

For me, producing was always something that I was interested in, so when the idea popped in my head, I decided to give it a go… learning a ton along the way. He arranges the music, I make it all happen. We’ve been friends on and off-stage for a long time, so being business partners seemed easy and obvious.

It helps that, at the moment, for eight shows a week, we are basically attached at the hip doing our tracks at Pretty Woman: The Musical. Our characters are always on stage together and our dressing stations are literally adjacent to each other. So, honestly, not producing a concert together seemed like a missed opportunity. At first, we thought an a cappella show would be interesting, considering Jake’s background, but eventually we decided to include light instrumentation to allow the vocal lines to be even more highlighted.

Brian Cali

Brian Cali

The definition of harmony is “the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions having a pleasing effect.” We really wanted to explore this idea. What happens when a famous solo number becomes a “combination of simultaneously sounded” solos? Two at a time? Three? Four? The idea of multiple Broadway stars bringing their powerful voices together to serve a single piece was what really excited us... and how lucky did we get with this group! Wow.

We have some of the most gifted singers on Broadway singing alongside each other, and the result is like nothing you’ve heard before. The work they’ve put in has been tremendous and it’s so inspiring to see these incredible vocalists share a bit of the spotlight with each other. The show celebrates Broadway stars working in harmony as they sing in harmony.

Harmony On Broadway, a night of Broadway show tunes re-voiced and reimagined, will be the first of what we hope to be an ongoing series highlighting imaginative, new vocal harmony across all genres of music. We are planning concerts that feature pop, country, and even Christmas music, all with the purpose of making songs you know as solos into duets, trios, and small group numbers. We’re proud to create a night that celebrates harmony, both in music and community - and it’s sure to “have a pleasing effect.”

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Becoming a Broadway Botanist

Mo Brady

by Jaime Verazin

Jaime Verazin

Jaime Verazin

I began scattering seeds of the idea of Broadway Botanist one year ago. Gardening has always been a hobby of mine and since moving to New York about ten years ago, I made it my mission to surround myself with green regardless of a lack of yard. So in came creative ways of having vertical indoor gardens. ;)

I’ve always been a lover of home design and organization, too, which proves super helpful when living in small New York spaces. Any time friends would come over, they would leave wanting to clear out their home or make it feel more cozy and happy, so I guess this idea of a seed had been brewing all my life 

It officially started when I began to bring plants into Broadway dressing rooms. People would linger in our space, or would comment on enjoying the room while doing day work, or that they could breathe easier (because of great air filtration).

And so the women of Bandstand on Broadway actually named this idea “Broadway Botanist.” They shared how important having the plants and a beautifully designed room made all the difference for their show and so it began!

Jaime Verazin

Jaime Verazin

I never expected for this life hobby to become my new life’s passion! But my non-tangible dream has always been to wave my magic wand around all the sad tree pits and dead window boxes and make them bloom. Slowly but surely, like a new tree, this dream is actually happening. Thanks to Mikey Winslow, my magical Install Partner who jumped on board a believer, and Colby Lindeman, my Pot Design Partner with creativity beyond the stage and nurturing grace, this idea has bloomed. Also, Mark Stuart, my fiancé and patient partner, has been so supportive even when everyone’s installs were taking over the living room at home. It takes a community sharing to make this kind of thing grow. Ultimately, it wouldn’t exist without everyone who has decided to garden with me by saying yes to green.

I love that I get to bounce around creating new experiences for people.  Whether it’s a surprise return home from tour gift, or a dressing room install, a tree plant rescue from an office about to throw them out, to plants in the meditation circle of our classes, it’s beautiful every time to see how we, as people, have such a connection to nature. 

I love that I can now “go to work” in this workshop (that is still being setup) to truly house and maximize the growth of this jungle. To dream of each stunning human and their happiness in the space. Refuge. Relaxation. Joy! The Broadway Botanist Greenhouse is going to be a community space, too, for workshops, plant happy hours and all sorts of things. I love that I have decided to only do what I love, while still auditioning, bouncing over to teach a partnering class, and sparking joy in people’s lives. And that there is room, relief, and more to explore every single day.

Joining the Plant Squad

Mo Brady

by Colby Q. Lindeman

Colby Q. Lindeman, Jaime Verazin and Mikey Winslow

Colby Q. Lindeman, Jaime Verazin and Mikey Winslow

I first called Jaime, aka the “Broadway Botanist” with a desire to expand my not-so-green thumb and fill our home with some fresh plant life. In an effort to save a few coins, as I was unemployed at the time, I searched for my own West Elm style pot to hold a new tree for our home. I found a plain, beat up planter - the last one on the thrift store shelf and took it home. With a little paint and creativity, I turned it into a spiffy new planter for our tree, Ira Cornstein. That handmade pot design became a popular insta post and soon, people started asking for similar pots. Just like that I began painting, designing and up-cycling planters for the Broadway Botanist. I had no idea my thrifty personality would turn into this creative and joyful partnership. Now I’m a full member of the Plant Squad! 

The Broadway Botanist is the realization of a dream and passion of Jaime. It started with humble beginnings in her dressing room during Bandstand on Broadway, sharing plants and plant guidance for cast mates. Word spread quickly and soon she was getting requests to help greenify others’ rooms, homes, and offices. It’s amazing the way the Broadway community has embraced and spread her passion for green around all of New York City. Now with the start of the Greenhouse workspace, the gift of plants can go even further and can include community outreach. 

Before getting fully immersed in the Plant Squad, I went on a project installation with Jaime. We went to a huge nursery, traveled soil and plants and pots, and got to work on a building’s fall planter boxes. I didn’t have my own gardening gloves yet, so I squeezed my hands into an extra pair, size small! But once I got digging in the dirt, I didn’t care. It was so satisfying to turn soil and put out fresh soil with live earthworms. Those little guys are so fun to watch. We planted mums and fall greenery for the season all along the front of the building. The incredible part was the look on people’s faces as they walked past. They’d stop and smile, ask about the flowers, compliment how improved it looked, or take a deep cleansing breath as they walked by. You could see the expressions change from bustling city life to a moment of calm and joy. The excitement of planting was so contagious that it prompted several others on the same street to ask for help with their planters. That was the day where I saw first hand the power of plants and the good it can bring people. I was hooked. 

Colby B. Lindeman

Colby B. Lindeman

Working with the Broadway Botanist is a team effort but there’s this light and passion that comes from Jaime. She radiates with joy for plants and for sharing plants with others. Today the BB is working on creating unique plant projects for homes, offices, dressing rooms, and more, as well as installing hanging plants, wall planters, and standing planters inside and outdoors, all of which are custom designed for the environment and the caretaker. This way you know what you’re getting and how to care for it. The Broadway Botanist also takes in unhealthy plants to give them TLC. It’s also a ‘plant hotel’ for your green babies while you travel. The Greenhouse will also begin holding in-house sessions and workshops to learn more about plants and planting. You will be able to come shop for pots and planters and all sorts of green things.


The Broadway Botanist’s Greenhouse space is growing with lots of love and care from the team and from all of our supporters. Without your help, the Greenhouse won’t thrive. It has so much to give and some much potential. We hope you’ll join us and support our Kickstarter. Come check us out and see what all the green is about.  

5 Debut Questions: The Prom's Susie Carroll

Mo Brady

Today on our blog, we welcome The Prom ensemblist Susie Carroll to Broadway and learn about her journey to the Great White Way:

1.  What’s your name and hometown?

My name is Susie Carroll, and I grew up in Park City, Utah. 

Susie Carroll in  The Prom

Susie Carroll in The Prom

2. What is your role/track in your Broadway debut?

I am the female vacation swing at The Prom, covering all teen girls in the show.

3. How did you find out you had booked the part?

I was in final callbacks for the lab of The Prom that took place a little over a year ago and didn't book it. This past January, I was on vacation and got an email asking my immediately availability for a possible vacation swing at The Prom. I emailed back immediately and said I could be there in the morning. (I was a little too eager. haha) They emailed back saying nothing was official as of yet, but they would get back to me soon as to whether or not I would get the offer or not.

A few days passed by with a few emails back and forth explaining a few things were still processing, and then on a Sunday morning I received a call from Bethany Knox (casting director) explaining that I got the job and was starting in March. It was WELL WORTH THE WAIT!

4. What's been the most surprising thing about preparing to perform the show?

I always knew Broadway was hard, but you never know to what extent until you are in the thick of it. It is hard, but in the best way! I had about ten days to learn the show, and at times I wondered if that were possible but literally everyone is prepared and on top of their work so from the confidence of them put confidence in me to trust that I will be able to do it in 10 days. Jack Sippel (dance captain) worked endlessly with me and I owe so much to him. 

5. What are you looking forward to most about your experience on Broadway?

It is simply my dream come true to be able to perform on Broadway! There are so many things I look forward to as I join the company of The Prom. First and foremost, getting to be on stage and doing what I love! And getting to do it with this dreamy of a cast. I mean this cast is a dream. I’ve looked up to so many of them for so long and now I’m alongside of them? Just magic. I am just so happy to be doing this. I showed lil Susie that it is possible and I hope I can show other girls that dreams are real and possible!

Susie Carroll

Susie Carroll