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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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"The most important thing to remember is - THEY'RE DOGS!"

Mo Brady

In honor of this week's Spotlight on Animal Trainers episode, we asked friends of the podcast about their favorite moments of working with pets onstage. Podcast guest Eddie Korbich tells us about working with the dogs in Broadway's A Christmas Story.

Eddie Korbich

Eddie Korbich

"The important thing was that I bonded with the dogs. After the show was in previews and they were comfortable with John [Bolton, the actor that Eddie understudied,] I got introduced to them and would visit them in their basement "dressing room", which was like a big kennel and spend time bonding and becoming one of their "Alphas."

"This happened before every show even if we had two shows a day. Other cast members  were strongly discouraged to be near them during this process to lessen confusion."

"They both had different personalities of course and one was food rewarded and the other was praise rewarded.   Pete the male was skittish and then one day the fake turkey leg (hard plastic) fell off of the tray while they were in the wings and bonked him on the head. And from then on when he saw the turkey he refused to go on for the scene's entrance so we just had the female who rocked it every night! Then when we pulled out the special goodie treat to lead them around the stage Pete would come bounding on to get  the food and the scene would finish perfectly."

"These were big goofy Bloodhounds and they tore across the stage loping up and down on their first entrance. The first performance in front of a full house our female dog skidded to a stop dead center and just looked at the audience for a couple seconds as if to say, "Who are all of you people?" and then continued on --- hysterical!"

Listen to Eddie on our episode on Original Cast Recordings.

Eddie Korbich (right, with Thay Floyd, Mark Ledbetter and Jeremy Shinder in A Christmas Story

Eddie Korbich (right, with Thay Floyd, Mark Ledbetter and Jeremy Shinder in A Christmas Story

"The ensemble works too hard to go unrewarded, unawarded or underacknowledged any longer."

Mo Brady

As the theatre community finds itself in the middle of Awards Season, The Ensemblist is often asked about the possibility of a Tony Award for Best Ensemble. So we wanted to hear from ensemblists about what Tony Award for ensembles would mean to THEM. Next up, podcast guest and Hamilton original cast member Betsy Struxness.

In Praise of the Ensemble

By Betsy Struxness

Betsy Struxness

Betsy Struxness

"When Mo approached me about writing a blog on what it would mean to have a "Best Ensemble" Award for the Tonys, I immediately welled up ... at the THOUGHT that this could ever happen. After umpteen years of rejection, minor injuries, rehearsal in a studio, GALLONS of sweat, blood, broken bones, elbows to the head, rehearsal onstage, blisters, wig preps, pushing through sickness, hair pins in my scalp, rehearsal for swings and understudies, dog walkers, missing family gatherings, TV appearances, applause, rehearsal for TV appearances, condescension, notes, wasted time, dreams coming true, becoming jaded ... oh, and did I mention rehearsal for some such or another between shows, before shows, after shows, during shows, you name it? Somehow, someway, I still hold out hope. I still hope after all these years that someone will get it. Someone will understand how HARD it is to be in the ensemble and think we could be acknowledged for it with a Tony category. But what I've learned, what I've been shown over and over again is that ultimately no one cares ... yet. So let's make them. Let's make them understand what it is we ensemblists do."

"Because I want to celebrate the ridiculously talented, underappreciated, strong, educated, overtrained, overworked, beautiful human beings of the ensemble. It is time for us to be seen for our full value and worth."

"Gone are the days of the dancing ensemble, the singing ensemble, and the principals like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, where the principals were the only triple threats. Gone are the days of massive full automation scenic spectacle (sort of), and a new era of seamless transitions of twirling sets steered by dancers in heels and skimpy costumes. Gone are the days of traditional musical numbers requiring nothing more than a smile and a ball change, and here to stay (please, Lord) are we asked to sing complex music while dancing on different rhythms and having a clear point of view about the artwork we are in. And honestly, for all of this, we are so grateful."

Betsy Struxness, winning the Gypsy Robe on Hamilton's opening night on Broadway

Betsy Struxness, winning the Gypsy Robe on Hamilton's opening night on Broadway

"We've been given more responsibility than ever before, and WE. ARE. NAILING. IT. The ensemble of Hamilton, who are everyone and every prop and every set piece, as well as Greek Chorus, pop star, and backup dancer for every genre of music out there. The ensemble of An American In Paris, who were also everyone while in pointe shoes, moving a set piece made for a 200-lb. man in a pair of heels backwards, lifting women over their heads while singing like the trained tenor in the spotlight who never has to lift more than a cup. The ensemble of Groundhog Day, who make costume change after costume change while dancing on five turntables and singing all the Tim Minchin-y lyrics you can hope for, after having funny acting moment after funny acting moment after funny acting moment, while being thrown on for the lead before opening. The ensemble of On The Town, giving you glorious technical dancing for THE GODS while singing some pretty classical musical theater and pulling the BEST kind of focus as the pretty drunk chick who makes everyone laugh. Or the "Beale Streeters" of the ensemble of Memphis, throwing women over their heads only to catch them and place them as gently as possible into a full split while singing rock and roll, changing into wool jacket after wool jacket, and being the girl in the bar no one can take their eyes off of because she's so committed to the dance step and her partner ... a cigarette having belted out all the notes possible the night before as Felicia. Or the ensemble of The Lion King placing their bodies into puppets to give us a glimpse of Africa while giving us the most heavenly vocals to let us hear the beauty of Africa while being injured. Or the ensemble of Motown, who were asked to be legend upon legend upon legend. These are a few examples of what is asked of the ensemble."

Betsy Struxness in Hamilton

Betsy Struxness in Hamilton

"We are the ones doing it all. Singing, dancing, acting, being the set, the props, bringing on costumes, rehearsing, also being principals, knowing 13 different tracks, screlting while upside down in a lift in a corset and another corset and a skirt, underdressing two costumes after a big dance number, being three people in one show (not three different characters, although we do that too, but like three tracks rolled into one ... that shit sucks), going on for all our swing tracks in one week AND the two principal tracks we cover, putting new people into the show ... between shows on a Saturday because someone got injured at the matinee, soaking in Epsom salts baths or ice baths to prevent injury, going to acupuncture once a week to prevent injury, going to PT twice a week so we can rehab a minor injury while still doing all eight shows a week, finding time for class all of them (voice, acting, dance, because like I said before, we do it all). There's still so much I'm missing by stopping here, but I think you're starting to get my point."

"When in the rehearsal process for a new show, ensemble members are usually called in more than the principals. We have to work together as a unit, sing together as a unit, and dance together as a unit. We don't get the luxury (usually) of being called in later to rehearse the few songs we sing alone, or have a long lunch break as they work on a scene we aren't involved in. We are either singing for seven hours, dancing for seven hours, a combination of the two or being called out of rehearsal to run to a costume fitting to come back to rehearsal and cram all the info we missed, unless of course we're scheduled before or after an 8-hour rehearsal day for a costume fitting."

"While actually in the run of the show, ensemble members usually rehearse 1-2 days a week between 4-12 hours a week, all while doing eight shows a week. Those are the times when we are putting new members into the show (when principals aren't usually called) or doing understudy rehearsal (when principals most definitely are not called) or doing a vocal brush-up (when principals aren't called) or a dance clean-up (when principals aren't called). You get the picture."

"I'm not hear to disparage principals and their obviously VITAL role (pun intended) in Broadway shows. Trust ... that is where I am aiming to be as well. I would just like the theater community as a whole to start seeing the true worth and value of the ensemble. Understand that what's being asked of us now isn't the same as what was asked in the past. Understand that if we're making a suggestion for a change in our costume, it's to make it easier for us to do eight shows a week, 52 weeks a year. Understand that if we say no to a lift or a certain dance move, it is most likely for that same reason. We welcome a higher level of responsibility, but we also need the respect level to rise the same amount, because you're asking us all to be of the caliber of your principals while treating us like we're a dime a dozen, easily replaceable by the next person who walks into the audition room. That is very seldom the case, as with your principals. Clearly we're replaceable, otherwise there would be no long-running Broadway shows, but the more that's asked of us, the harder it is to find us. Back to the subject at hand."

Betsy Struxness with Lin-Manuel Miranda on her last night at Hamilton

Betsy Struxness with Lin-Manuel Miranda on her last night at Hamilton

"A Tony Award. The pinnacle, most would say, of theatrical awards. The GREATEST of outside validation and acknowledgement. Yet we all know there's some politics to it as well. Which is fine, but if you're gonna celebrate the different categories of artists originating Broadway shows, why not Best Wig/Hair Design, Best Make-up Design, and dare we say it ... Best Ensemble? At least Best Sound Design is coming back after a brief hiatus. Anyone hired to originate new work and put their art on the Broadway stage should have a category and be acknowledged as a piece of the artistic puzzle."

"The ensemble is where I have LIVED on Broadway. It has made my childhood dreams come true and then some. While I've been in Tony-winning shows, I've never actually felt like I won or was part of the win. It has been the most fulfilling work of my life so far. But as I've gained more experience and risen through the ranks, I haven't been able to help but learn a few things along the way. One of the greatest lessons I've learned about myself is that I love a challenge. So far, the ensemble has always provided that, but after Hamilton, ensemble work no longer feels like the challenge it once was, because Hamilton was hands down THE HARDEST gig I've ever had, and I felt like I conquered it. I got to be the ultimate ensemble artist. But now, I want new challenges. I want to feel the weight of a show on my back that is mine to carry. I want to be the comic relief. I want to be the ingenue. I want to be the sidekick. I want to do new work. I want to see what my take would be on old work. Basically, I want it all. No matter where my career takes me, I will always love the ensemble. I will always advocate for the ensemble. I will always watch the ensemble. And I will damn sure ALWAYS root for them to get a Tony Award. The ensemble works too hard to go unrewarded, unawarded or underacknowledged any longer."

 

Humans of Amelie

Jackson Cline

Friends of the podcast and Amelie cast members Alison Cimmet & Phillipa Soo's new photo series, Humans of Amelie, has taken Instagram by storm. As a tribute to the ensemble cast on their closing weekend, we've shared their portraits below:

HUMANS.OF.AMELIE~Alyse Name: Alyse Alan Louis Role in Amelie: Georgette/Sylvie/Collignon's Mother Instagram handle: None Twitter handle: None Hometown: Havertown, PA Favorite quotation: "Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave" - Rilke Guilty pleasure: Any season of The Real Housewives on Bravo. This is surprising because it's pleasurable to a point but also fills me with anxiety. A good deed you did, received, or witnessed: I'm on the R filling this out. I noticed this older man across from me. He looked like he had had, a rough day and was falling asleep. All of a sudden, as he dozed off, he toppled over onto the floor and dropped his bag. The fall startled him and as he, red in the face and embarrassed, got back up onto the seats, I picked his bag up off the floor and gave it back to him. I put a hand on his shoulder and asked if he was okay. He said he was and then gave me a reassuring look. He's now completely asleep leaning on his hands and every so often wakes himself up as his head drops from time to time. I know nothing about this man but I hope in the couple of seconds that we made eye contact that he felt that someone cares about him and his experience today. I care about him. Those are the most precious moments to me in NYC, when during a rough day (there's a lot of them here) in a sea of people, a stranger reached out for a second with a kind word, a smile, or a second of understanding eye contact. Or maybe just quietly looked over and actually saw that I was there.

A post shared by Phillipa Soo (@phillipasoo) on

"I love watching peoples' lives change before my eyes!"

Mo Brady

In honor of our episode on Awards Season, we asked Broadway actors to share their favorite memories of the fast and furious time between when theatre award nominations are announced and the Tony Awards telecast. Today, we hear from podcast guest Ellyn Marie Marsh, a member of the Tony Award-winning company of Kinky Boots in 2013.

Ellyn Marie Marsh

Ellyn Marie Marsh

"The morning of the Tony Awards nominations I watched the announcements from my kitchen squealing with each nomination announced and especially so for best show and of course that Stark and Billy were both recognized! Billy had so much attention for the show as Lola is such a tour de force so I was really excited Stark was recognized for his nuanced performance as Charlie Price as well."

"During the weeks leading up to awards night, the Hirschfeld Theatre was electric. Knowing Tony voters would be in the audience every night made our usual 100% just a little more heightened! Knowing our leading men were on their A-game every single moment was really inspiring for the supporting cast. It for sure wasn't a run away year ('Hamiltony's') by any means, all shows were strong and different and magical in their own way. 2013 was Matilda the Musical (which I LOVED), Bring It On: The Musical (which had way too short of the run in my opinion) and A Christmas Story (which I sadly didn't see)."

"During our regular show schedule were extra staging rehearsals as we had to cut 'Everybody Say Yeah' our flashy and exciting end of act one we were going to do on the telecast. Each show is given a certain time frame and if the number is longer than that, it must be cut down. I think we cut a minute or so off the number.  So it was funny to rehearse the Tony version during the day and do our regular show at night...thinking caps ON!"

"That week was EXHAUSTING. You have to record the vocals for the number so off we went before a show to MSR studios to record our abridged number. Leads sing live everyone else is pre recorded for the broadcast. In addition, we had staging rehearsals at our theater, camera rehearsal at Radio City, then dress rehearsal at Radio City Music Hall the MORNING OF the Tonys. This day is hilarious. We did hair, make up, wigs and costumes at our theater and then we walked from the Hirschfeld to Radio City - you can imagine how the drag queens stopped traffic in Midtown that day. Dress rehearsal is so fun because we are all there in the house watching each other and cheering each other on. The true spirit and camaraderie of Broadway is one that can't be explained. That day, suffice it to say, tons of nervous energy was pulsing through that historical building. The competition of the evening fades and we all just focus on putting on an exciting show. Once a show performs the next show is in the wings screaming and cheering and high fiving - I never played football but I feel that's what it's like to take the field? (You're welcome for the sports reference)." 

IMG_3723.JPG

"Being on the Tonys backstage isn't very glamorous because you wait in a bus outside the theater until a very strategic time in which you walk through a maze of hallways and elevators till right before you do your number. Coincidentally, the announcement of Tony Awards for Best Musical was right after we performed and Billy Porter had already won his Tony that night. So when he took the stage with us, he was doing Lola as a TONY WINNER (side note his speech is a youtube must watch), we were all so excited for him! We ran off stage knowing that the award for Best Musical was coming next and we waited in the wings all holding hands pretty much not breathing until we heard that we won and we couldn't stop jumping up and down. I believe Marcus Neville has a video of this very instant. All the hard work, long days and nights, changes, cuts, time away from our families all culminated with Berndette's words...Kinky Boots. And just like that-we all got to be a part of musical theater history."

"I had the privilege of performing on the Tonys two times and I consider it one of the highest honors. The memories are so special and so vivid in my mind. The Tony Awards is one of my favorite nights of the year! I love watching the performances knowing what an insanely long week everyone has had, knowing that the pure JOY of what we do is fueling their engines. I also love watching peoples' acceptance speeches and watching their lives change before my eyes. Broadway is so awesome!"

"It is only right to honor the cast as a whole."

Mo Brady

As the theatre community finds itself in the middle of Awards Season, The Ensemblist is often asked about the possibility of a Tony Award for Best Ensemble. So we wanted to hear from ensemblists about what Tony Award for ensembles would mean to THEM. First up, podcast guest and frequent blogger Christopher Gurr (Cats, Tuck Everlasting).

Christopher Gurr

Christopher Gurr

"I squirm under this question. Here’s why:"

"Different productions use ensembles in different ways. Some use them as the world or container or context of the main story. Some as a group protagonist. Some, let’s be frank, as wallpaper or set decoration (or set movers) behind the main story or stars. Some shows don’t have them at all." 

"If I were tasked with helping the Tony awards craft a way of honoring the ensemble element on Broadway I’d pitch two things. The first, radical, the second, semantic."

"1) Ditch the individual performance awards entirely and only give awards for Best Performance by a Cast in a Musical and Best Performance by a Cast in a Play."

"2) Create an award for Best Use of an Ensemble (Musical and Play)."

"Option one appeals to my understanding of and commitment to theatre-making as a team sport. It is my preferred option. Option two might, by rewarding excellence in storytelling through ensemble, encourage excellence in storytelling through ensemble." 

"Truth? I’ve got to say, I’m not sure I’d trust the Tony voters with option two."

"I’d like to retract option two. I’m going with my radical pitch: Best Performance by a Cast, full stop."

"To truly, truly honor how the actors’ contribution to a production works, it is only right to honor the cast as a whole." 

"This will never happen. It is not how Broadway thinks and works. It is not how the American mind thinks and works." 

"Disagree? I’m available for pints and discussion most nights after the curtain falls at the Neil Simon. Give me a shout."

 - Christopher Gurr

Read more musings from Christopher on his website.

"It's a thrilling environment where creativity thrives."

Mo Brady

Friend of the podcast Skye Mattox (On The Town, West Side Story) shares her love for performing The Golden Apple at Encores!

Skye Mattox

Skye Mattox

"I don't really know where to begin on speaking about the wonder that is doing a show for Encores! The Golden Apple, was my fifth Encores! production, but I don't think I realized what exactly it was that made the shows so special until our director, Michael Berresse, spoke during rehearsal one day. He said that there is this wonderful thing that happens, when you haven't quite had the chance to perfect your performance. You're still discovering things, going through this creative process, and then all of a sudden there's people there in the audience watching you."

"It's fast and furious, and you never feel quite ready once that invited dress rolls around. And somehow, that takes the pressure off of feeling like you have to be perfect. The audience is witnessing all the little happy accidents that usually happen within the confines of the rehearsal studio, and it almost feels like that connects us, the people onstage with the audience. It's such a supportive, thrilling environment where creativity thrives."

"Encores! has become one of my favorite jobs to do, because there is always so much joy, laughter (a lot of laughter) and determination that goes into putting the show up. Everyone in every department MUST band together in order to get the show up in time. I remember during my second production, Little Me, there were so many costumes involved that some of the people in wardrobe slept at the theater one night because they were there so late and up so early getting the costumes together. Everyone is so invested in putting up a great show, in so little time, it's so special." 

"It's really amazing to have this series, and people like Jack Viertel, that are so passionate about preserving, and breathing new life into musical theater history. It's so important, and I couldn't be happier to be a small part of it."

The cast of The Golden Apple at Encores!

The cast of The Golden Apple at Encores!

City Center Encores!: "The Epitome of Gypsy Life."

Mo Brady

Friend of the podcast Jeff Heimbrock (The Book of Mormon, Newsies tour) makes the case for the classic musical The Golden Apple, which he recently performed in at Encores!

Jeff Heimbrock  

Jeff Heimbrock

 

"Bagels and introductions. Frantically learn an entire musical. Rehearse the show without really knowing what is happening. Perform the show without really knowing what is happening. Close. This is the general gist of what it’s like to be in a production at City Center Encores!, a producing outlet dedicated to reviving little-known chestnuts of yester-year in concert form. Traditionally, Encores! shows are rehearsed and presented all in a three week period, with cast members holding the script/score in black binders, in limited staging and costuming, and backed-up by a full-fledged orchestra (led by the incomparable Rob Berman). The experience is notably fast and furious. With The Golden Apple, Encores! decided to raise the stakes- offering a nearly fully staged production, with costumes, set pieces, and completely off-book. Summer stock theaters do this every year, so no sweat, right? Try 135-minutes of nonstop singing with a 40 person cast in a show nobody has heard of and no wing space on stage left. Grease, this ain’t."

"Loosely flavored, but inherently inspired by Homer’s The Iliad  and The OdysseyThe Golden Apple is the brainchild of Jerome Moross and John Latouche. The music is playful, stylistic, and baked with a heavy dollop of Americana (which Mr. Berman so expertly discusses in his essay on the score for Playbill). Mr. LaTouche's lyrics are extraordinarily clever when he’s laying the satire on thick with American culture (Max Chernin and I would obsess over Helen’s line “Piper Heidsieck, Veuve Cliquot, swing your partner doh-see-doh”) and also simple and poetic when the characters are allowed some moments of brevity (such as Penelope and Ulysses reuniting at the end of the show, vowing, with thunderous chords from the orchestra, that

" We’re one not two, we finally see that I am you, and you are me."

Jeff Heimbrock (second from right) and the cast of The Golden Apple at Encores!

Jeff Heimbrock (second from right) and the cast of The Golden Apple at Encores!

"The show features twelve 'Heroes,' the soldiers who are returning to their small town of Angel’s Roost after fighting in the Spanish-American war. My ruggish demeanor and alpha male personality makes me an obvious choice for this type of character, which I felt really showed new sides of myself to New York audiences, who either know me from my commercial for The Book of Mormon or from my leaked nude photos on the internet. The Heroes spent a large chunk of the show onstage, following Ulysses (played by Broadway heartthrob and true dime piece Ryan Silverman) to the wicked city of Rhododendron where we each get killed off one by one by the seven deadly sins. Nothing like musical comedy!"

"I was struck by something that Jesse Green wrote in his review of our show in The New York Times (and if anyone should ask, I am self-respecting* artist and NEVER read reviews). He kindly said our not-so-little production was making a “marvelous, if last-ditch case for [The Golden Apple].” I had to unpack that a little bit. Making the case…making the case for this piece. I suppose every revival is making the case again for a piece of theater. Re-interpreted, re-told, re-staged. Born anew for a new audience. A new era. There is a responsibility inherent in making the case for a show, especially for something this obscure, this rare."

"New York audiences’ enthusiasm can be tempered by a signature fickleness, walking into theaters with nothing in their hands but a surcharged ticket and nothing in their heads but the phrase “prove it."  The Glass Menagerie is one of the most well-known American plays, which gives someone like the visionary Sam Gold an opportunity to explore it in a completely different way. Making the case. The companies of Miss Saigon and Hello, Dolly! make the case for those shows in versions that are similar (but not carbon-copy) of the original productions, with the added benefit (or is it hurdle?) of those being juggernauts of 20th Century American musical theatre. To do justice to a forgotten piece is a delicate process… You want people to discover or remember this show. Even more important is serving those who already love The Golden Apple from it’s decades of being a signature cult musical, widely loved by aficionados. Many of them have never gotten to see it on stage."

"You want to people to see what Moross and LaTouche were going for, why they were brilliant, why this show deserves your attention. The inverse of the issue facing many big revivals, most people come into Encores! shows with no preconceptions, almost as if it were a completely new piece. To pull all this off requires a swell of great enthusiasm at the core of the production, and no one was better suited to take this on than Michael Berresse. A (Tony-nominated) veteran of the stage, Michael's undying love for The Golden Apple is part of the reason why it was such a joy to bring this piece to life. His reverence was palpable, and it was very clear why he was making the case. His passion carried all of us to the finish line, even when we were blindly throwing things to the wind and hoping something would catch."

"Just as we were starting to figure out the show and feel comfortable with it, the run was over. This can be hectic to perfectionists like myself, but the scrappy, 'here-goes-nothing' performances are a sort of theatrical purity. Staying alive onstage, staying alert just to stay afloat. Exhausting, exhilarating. And then, the flame extinguishes, the ghost light comes on, the show is over and goes to bed in that treasure chest, waiting to be woken up by whoever is brave enough to tackle The Golden Apple again, in all of it’s expanse and glory."

"Much like the forgotten gems that Encores! resuscitates, I too am under appreciated and awkwardly structured. Every time I start a new show, I feel like I’m making the case for myself too. I am not needy or insecure at ALL*, but showing up to the first day of rehearsal is terrifying. A congregation of other artists, introductions to a new community that you hope will love you and accept you in all the gross ways you need love and acceptance. I can be painfully shy (no, really), which is an obstacle when everyone knows each other already and I generally want to make a good impression on…well, everyone. For my career, these impressions can be important (Sondheim says 'everything you do, you still audition' and truer words have never been written in the history of mankind). But what is my impression as a human being? Am I giving? Am I being patient, kind, forgiving, attentive? Am I contributing to this work?"

"Then, like I hoped (or knew) it would be, I made new friends. Beautiful friends. Inspiring friends. This shared experience of momentary inspiration and community is the epitome of gypsy life. We spend every day and then every night together. Getting to know and love them before immediately saying goodbye. Plays, if they’re lucky, repeat a process of birth, death, and rebirth. They’re constantly being given life, some more rejuvenation than others (I should add that not every production of Hamlet makes a good case for Hamlet). As the shows come and go, so do the people. You sweat, bleed, cry, and laugh with these people for two weeks, two months, two years. Then the show closes, or you leave for another gig, and suddenly those people, your people, are gone.  You will always have that shared experience in your memory, but the group dissipates. I don’t have too much separation anxiety (I was blessed with every other form), but I do get post-show blues. Constants in the theatre are rare. Friends and colleagues come and go. So do the paychecks, the showmaces, the gossip in the dressing room, the drunk chats on Sunday nights about love lives, daydreams, the flubbed line in Act Two..."

"Of course, these people will eventually boomerang back to you. At a bar, on 8th Avenue, or in another show. Shows get a rebirth, friendships get a steroid shot. You get to make your case all over again. It’s hard to say goodbye (my love), but it’s equally refreshing to get to say “hello, old friend."

[*alternative fact] 

"IT'S TRUE! The Tonys are a TOTAL BLUR!"

Mo Brady

In honor of our episode on Awards Season, we asked Broadway actors to share their favorite memories of the fast and furious time between when theatre award nominations are announced and the Tony Awards telecast. Today, we hear from friend of the podcast Molly Hager (Waitress).

Molly Hager

Molly Hager

"You know how everyone describes Tony season as 'a blur?' To me that always sounded like a cop out answer. Like, I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT THAT EXPERIENCE WAS LIKE FOR YOU CAN YOU GIVE ME A REAL ANSWER PLEASE THANKS!!!!!"

"But now having had the privilege of experiencing The Tonys last year first hand with the cast of Waitress, I can honestly say that IT'S TRUE! It's a TOTAL BLUR! I'm not sure if it's because too much excitement makes you temporarily dumber or if it's all of the champagne toasts that make you black out (in my case, it was the combo of excitement and stress-eating thousands of cookies -- catapulting me into another stratosphere of sugar high). Either way, the memory is fuzzy. But I'll do my best to remember!"

Molly Hager at the opening of Broadway's Waitress

Molly Hager at the opening of Broadway's Waitress

"'Today's a day like any other. But I am changed, I am a [Tony performer].' That's a (slightly augmented) lyric from Waitress that I keep singing in my head as I'm writing this. I hope you're singing the song now too (if you don't know the song, please stop reading this and immediately get a ticket to Waitress. I am currently playing Sara Bareilles' mother 8 shows a week, and our chemistry alone is worth the price of admission)."

"Anyway, the 2016 Tony Awards. Here's what I remember: I remember getting to the theatre super early day of to get into costume for our dress rehearsal at The Beacon. I remember not sleeping the night before. I remember boarding the bus with my cast mates and taking a thousand pictures. I remember screaming and waving like a maniac at all of the different Broadway shows and celebrities. I remember Glenn Close rehearsing a planned bit at full volume in the green room many times over. (I felt oddly proud when she nailed it during the live telecast). I remember that we had a matinee to get through before the actual Tony performance and it felt like it went on forever. I remember live streaming the red carpet interviews while getting back into costume and putting on makeup again (and fake lashes. It was the Tony's after all). I remember thinking that Keri Russell looked like a g.d. ANGEL while presenting our cast. I remember waiting in the wings thinking that there was no way the crew guys could switch the sets/props on time (which of course they did). I remember sweaty palms and thumping hearts and applause and NOT dropping a pie or a menu, which was a great accomplishment. I remember extreme joyousness and love for our little Broadway community, and finally feeling like a part of it."

Molly Hager (center, with Kimiko Glenn and Christopher Fitzgerald)

Molly Hager (center, with Kimiko Glenn and Christopher Fitzgerald)

"Phew. So that's all that I remember. My first Tony Awards."

"I wish upon all of you reading this a day like that! A day of feeling so happy and overwhelmed that future you will "cop out" and describe it as 'a blur.'"

"...and cookies. I also wish upon you unlimited amounts of cookies."

"Last Wednesday, a lifelong dream came true."

Mo Brady

Bandstand swing Andrew Leggieri shares with us what it felt like to make his Broadway debut in the show last week.

Andrew Leggieri

Andrew Leggieri

"Last Wednesday, a lifelong dream came true. I made my Broadway debut in Bandstand, a show who's journey I've been lucky to be a part of for the last two years. And even though I’ve been with the show for so long, it was also my first time getting to perform the show on stage."

"As a swing in a new musical, the hardest part of the rehearsal/preview process was keeping up with the daily changes to the script, score, blocking and choreography. I was lucky enough to have a put-in rehearsal for this particular track, so I felt mentally prepared. But when I got the call 4 hours prior to the matinee that I would be on for both shows, I wasn't ready for the wave of emotions that would take over. So many years of dreaming and preparation boiled down to this one day, my debut! And people I love were able to be there with such short notice. It was everything I could have dreamed of and more. The hardest part was bottling up the overwhelming feeling of joy and pride so I could stay focused on the show."

"Being a swing on Broadway can be challenging, but my successful debut would not have been possible without the incredible support from my Bandstand family. Throughout the show, they would give me a pat on the back, a little 'shove with love' and other simple gestures that made me feel at ease. Their energy on and off stage is infectious, and I'm so lucky to be surrounded by such talented and giving people."

"The First (and only) Tony I’ve Ever Held… didn’t belong to me."

Mo Brady

This week on The Ensemblist blog, we hear from podcast guest Christopher Gurr (Cats, Tuck Everlasting) on Awards Season during his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning production of All The Way.

 

"The first (and only) Tony I’ve ever held… didn’t belong to me. But, I bet you knew that."

Christopher Gurr

Christopher Gurr

"I made my Broadway debut in the 2013-2014 season. In a play. A pretty big play. Really. There were twenty of us on stage. That’s normal for a musical but not a new American play. It was a great group of actors. Maybe you’ve heard of some of the guys (and, yes, it was predominately guys) I was working with. There was John McMartin (how I loved that man), Michael McKean (I never, EVER got used to being with him, on stage or off), the perfect Ethan Phillips (go ahead—look him up), and this one other guy who was also making his Broadway debut: Bryan Cranston."

"He was ok."

"That play, All The Way, by Robert Schenkkan, got a lot of love during its limited run here at the Neil Simon (I’m writing this from my dressing room in the same theater. Slightly different show…) and we all enjoyed that love in our various ways."

Christopher Gurr (center, with William Jackson Harper and Eric Lenox Abrams) at the meet and greet for All The Way.

Christopher Gurr (center, with William Jackson Harper and Eric Lenox Abrams) at the meet and greet for All The Way.

"I’m was old enough (forty-seven, to be precise) to know that my first outing on Broadway wasn’t representative of a life on Broadway, should I be fortunate enough to have one of those. I mean, we knew we had a hit before we opened. We knew we had a killer draw in Bryan, we knew that our limited run meant we were already practically sold out, and we all knew (at least I think we all knew) that it was a damn fine telling of a damn fine story. There was a level of certainty about it all that I knew wasn’t what Broadway felt like most of the time. But my first time—this time—that’s how it felt."


"For us the wind-up to the Tonys wasn’t about “will we run or not?” but “how amazing will this run be? How many cherries do we get on this sundae?” So… that’s different. Not at all the usual pre-Tony existential angst that so many productions labor under while the nominating committee then the Tony voters at large weight in. The time before the nominations was smooth sailing. Then our play and our lead got nominated. I don’t think we thought those nominations were a lock, but we also weren’t terribly surprised. The month between the nominations and the night of the awards was only (!) a brightening of the already bright lights we had gotten used to. I know! I know. Spoiled rotten."

 

"HERE’S HOW TO ENJOY THE TONYS: DON’T NEED THEM."

"It’s exactly like auditioning when you don’t need the job. And we all know how that’s likely to go. When you don’t need it, you often book it. Why is that? Success breeds success? When you’re relaxed, you perform (in all the meanings of that word) at your very best? Or is it that, while desperation or—really—even a whiff of wanting can put folks off, not wanting…? Well, that’s just hot. We were hot."

"For a bunch of mostly middle-aged guys, being hot is fun."

"Not being a musical we did not perform at the Tony’s. We could relax that Sunday. We had our matinee at two instead of three so that Bryan, Robert, and the higher-ups could get to the ceremonies in time for the broadcast. The rest of the company was going to assemble at the Redeye Grill, over near Radio City, to watch the awards then to celebrate… whatever we had to celebrate come the end of the evening. We were a little slowed down by some fans backstage. Marc Mezvinsky, his wife and her folks just happened to be there and if you’ve ever spent time with Bill, Hilary, and Chelsea you know they really like to talk. Particularly Bill. And so does Bryan. And the play was about politics and the Democratic party, so…. That took some time. But, eventually Hillary had Chelsea drag Bill from the building (that’s how I’m telling it), we all changed, and, in small groups, we made the five-block trip to our party. It was a lovely evening. My friends and I walked it. I have pictures but I won’t bore you."


"Our lead producers were also represented at the Tonys by Audra McDonald, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, so the two productions had a combined gathering. At first those of us not at the ceremonies huddled upstairs at the Redeye in front of a couple of giant flat screen TVs to watch the awards. We drank, we kibitzed, we enjoyed each other’s company and, in what seemed like a blink, there was our man, Bryan, winning his Tony. The room lit UP! I mean, sure, he’s our guy in our play, but here’s the thing: we really liked him. A lot. We were happy for us but also genuinely happy for our colleague. Then Audra won and the room exploded again. (Jeffrey and Jerry were having a really good night.) Then another quick blur of time and Best Play goes to… All The Way. And our already too-generous sundae was smothered in an avalanche of cherries."

 

"THAT TONY. OUR TONY."

"After All The Way was announced as the winner of the Tony Award for Best Play, we migrated downstairs to a huge spread (including sundaes!) as folks from Radio City poured in the front door. Eventually I could see Bryan Cranston and his chunk of hardware making his way through the crowd, then Robert, looking like the cat who ate the canary. My little gang got to them, hugged and patted them, and passed them on to the rest of the admiring throng for more love and lauding. The crush was getting to be too much so we headed out to the sidewalk seating on 56th street. The weather was perfect. Outside it was quieter. We were buzzed. We were happy. We plopped down into the comfy outdoor furniture. So relaxed. In a moment—and I honestly don’t remember who handed it to me—I was holding a Tony. A real Tony. It was Bill Rauch. And that is perfect."

"Bill Rauch, our director and the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare festival. Bill Rauch who commissioned this play in the first place. Bill Rauch who cast me without even knowing that my personal ties to his company out in Ashland were many and deeply meaningful to me. As Robert Schenkkan said in his acceptance speech,

“Bill Rauch, Bill Rauch, Bill Rauch.”

"Bill would take exception to my starting this story by saying that the Tony I held did not belong to me. Bill would say, “Christopher! No! That Tony is yours! It’s ours! All of us!” Bill Rauch, more than anyone, knows that theatre is nothing if not a communal experience and a community effort. That’s probably why, of the many actual Tony awards in that room that night, it was Bill’s that was making its way—seemingly of its own accord—from one pair of hands to another. At my table alone it passed from an understudy to a dresser to an assistant director to a company manager to the 20th ensemble member. Me."

"That Tony. Our Tony."

"The only Tony I’ve ever held knew how it got there and how many people helped it on its way. I really believe it did."

Christopher Gurr

Neil Simon Theater

May 2017

The Joys and Perils of Watching Yourself In Broadway Bootlegs

Mo Brady

by Mo Brady

"I only did one Broadway show. And it wasn’t fun."

"Yes, it was the culmination of my life’s dreams coming true. Yes, it was a chance to prove to myself that I was capable of working at the highest professional level in our industry. Yes, I got to work with many beautiful people onstage and offstage who have made my life better."

"But it didn’t make me feel very good."

Remember when we used filters like this on Instagram? Oh, 2011.

Remember when we used filters like this on Instagram? Oh, 2011.

"As a replacement ensemble member, I stepped into a track that had been created with another person’s strengths in mind. Some parts of that track fit me like a glove."

"But many parts - most parts - of the show were not fun to perform. I felt like they accentuated my weaknesses instead of my strengths. Which made me feel bad about my performance. Which made my performance not as good. Which made me feel bad about my performance. Etc, etc, etc."

"It’s been over five years since I closed that show. In the time since, I’ve been able to encapsulate that experience for myself in a way that makes me the hero of my own story.  And I’ve felt good about that."

"That is, I felt good about it until I got a text from a friend this week:"

“'Just found a full bootleg of Addams Family when you were in it.' Along with a URL to the video."

"I’m not gonna pretend I didn’t watch it. Of course I watched it. I watched it over and over, meticulously analyzing my every gesture, reaction and movement. Was it healthy? Nah. Was it what I did? You bet your sweet ass it is."

"And as I watched the 2011-version of myself falling out of turns and singing occasionally pitchy solos in front of 1,400 paying customers, I started to feel shitty all over again. It’s embarrassing to be handed an opportunity to achieve a dream (in this case, performing in a Broadway ensemble) and feeling like you didn’t rise to the challenge."

"I stopped auditioning about a year after that show closed, so it’s very unlikely that I will ever perform on Broadway again. If I had the chance to relive that year of my life, I would do a lot of things differently. First and foremost, I would worry a lot less about whether I was good enough to be there. However, I won’t ever get a chance to “rewrite that chapter” of my story."

"So where does that leave me?"

"Instead of sugarcoating that experience, I choose to face it head on. I can’t stop myself from falling out of a turn in front of 1,400 people six years ago. I can’t stop somebody from illegally filming it and putting the video on the internet."

"But I can chose not to let those mistakes define the entire experience for me. Today, I can see how being in that show changed my life, opened doors for me and gave me a new career trajectory that allows me to be part of the Broadway community with much more security and success than performing ever did."

"And that’s something that I can keep forever - messy turns and all."

Mo Brady wth the ensemble of The Addams Family on Broadway: (clockwise from left) Erick Buckley, Reed Kelly, Fred Inkley, Mo, Jimmy Bortselmann, Samantha Sturm, Tom Berklund, Stephanie Gibson and Lisa Karlin

Mo Brady wth the ensemble of The Addams Family on Broadway: (clockwise from left) Erick Buckley, Reed Kelly, Fred Inkley, Mo, Jimmy Bortselmann, Samantha Sturm, Tom Berklund, Stephanie Gibson and Lisa Karlin

Mo Brady is the co-creator and host of The Ensemblist podcast

"The arts are more important now than ever."

Mo Brady

In honor of our episode on Activism this season, Hamilton Chicago ensembles Samantha Pollino shares why she chose to participate in Chicago's Concert for America in March. 

Samantha Pollino

Samantha Pollino

"I mean, look. The arts are more important now than ever because its the most effective way to express yourself. While some people feel like the arts are an escape from reality, I prefer to see them as a soapbox or a mirror. Good, quality art often reflects things happening in our world. The Concert for America is about bringing together high caliber artists with a similar vision and passion for accenting minorities and organizations that are now being threatened."

"Personally, I am a huge advocate of public schools, so getting to perform with the Chicago Children’s Choir was pretty amazing. I got to talk to a bunch of those kids about how music as an extracurricular activity has changed their lives and ignited new interests for them."

Samantha Pollino (second from left), with Marya Grandy, James Wesley, Colin Donnell, Jose Ramos, Joseph Morales at Chicago's Concert for America.

Samantha Pollino (second from left), with Marya Grandy, James Wesley, Colin Donnell, Jose Ramos, Joseph Morales at Chicago's Concert for America.

"I'm still recovering from that performance one year later."

Mo Brady

In honor of our episode on Awards Season, we asked Broadway actors to share their favorite memories of the fast and furious time between when theatre award nominations are announced and the Tony Awards telecast. Today, we hear from friend of the podcast Alex Boniello (Spring Awakening).

Alex Boniello

Alex Boniello

"Deaf West's Spring Awakening was one of the most wild experiences of my life, and award season was no different."

"The cast had been discussing for a while about the possibility of our beautiful little show being nominated, but we really had no idea if it was going to happen. For those who don't remember, our show had ended its limited engagement in January, and Tony nominations came out in May. It's very rare for a show to be remembered with an honor when the gap between closing and nominations is so big. Not only that, but last year was STACKED with incredible revivals."

"I remember waking up early and going over to Kathryn Gallagher's apartment with Alex Wyse and Andy Mientus, and we waited and turned on the TV."

"When our show was called, we actually flipped out. It was just the best. And then, when Michael Arden's name was called for Best Director, we may as well have been dead." 

Alex Boniello (left, with Andy Mientus, Kathryn Gallagher and Alex Wyse) the morning of the 2016 Tony Award nominations.

Alex Boniello (left, with Andy Mientus, Kathryn Gallagher and Alex Wyse) the morning of the 2016 Tony Award nominations.

"Cut to a few weeks later (and a few thousand dollars of Kickstarter money later) we were rehearsing to perform on the Tony Awards. We had to re-learn choreography and intricate cueing patterns for our Deaf cast mates within four days, after five months of not performing the show."

"This was the biggest award we could have ever gotten. We got to show the world what Deaf performers can do to an audience of a few million people on CBS. I was also, personally, very lucky that one of my character's songs was the one selected to perform."

"I'm still recovering from fully blacking out from nerves for that performance one year later."

"The day of the Tonys was wild."

Mo Brady

In honor of our episode on Awards Season, we asked Broadway actors to share their favorite memories of the fast and furious time between when theatre award nominations are announced and the Tony Awards telecast. First up is friend of the podcast Max Chernin (Bright Star, Sunday in the Park with George).

Max Chernin

Max Chernin

"Bright Star was fortunate to have a nice “bouquet” of nominations. The time surrounding it all was wild… Carmen Cusack was whisked off every morning to some function, we filmed a commercial, did The Today Show and Jimmy Fallon, dropped an album, and tried to squeeze in understudy rehearsals.. From a marketing perspective obviously it gave the show some street cred, but the Best Musical nomination was a win for all of us. It felt like the integrity and artistry of our show was recognized."

"There were a lot of new shows last season (this season too), so it was a gift that they decided to nominate five…especially with all of us standing next to Hamilton. I learned that the only way to get the fifth nominee is for there to be a small enough margin in the votes between the fourth and fifth musical…crazy to me that the whole nominating process is so cut and dry."

"As we got closer to the telecast we learned that we were all going to be on it, which I think was integral to representing the show in three minutes…and really awesome for all of us who had never done the Tonys before. If you caught Bright Star, you may have noticed the giant house the ensemble spun around the stage. Naturally, they decided to construct a piece for the telecast, and it had to be tested out before the big day. The ensemble boys took a field trip up to Hudson Scenic with Walter Bobbie and our PSM, Michael Passaro. It was cool to peek inside there and see all that magic. We played around with this mini-facade unit of the house to prep for being on stage at the Beacon. Then some of us had a beer up at a local brewery. Fun day. :)"

"The day of the Tonys was wild. We had our matinee, then hopped on a bus, hopped off, did our number, got back on the bus, got out of costume at the theatre, then off to a little party. Regardless of the outcome for Bright Star that night, it was an amazing time for all of us."

"The final moment of our performance that night had this 360 shot around Carmen where you got to see her see all of us, and I think, or at least I hope that in that moment the audience felt a part of our community. We were a proud bunch."

“It’s something I learned in rehearsals: Just show up!"

Mo Brady

With our episode on Activism coming out at the end of April, Playbill Senior Features Editor Ruthie Fierberg shares why she chose to participate in the March for Science in New York City earlier last month. 

Ruthie Fierberg

Ruthie Fierberg

“It’s actually something I learned growing up in rehearsals: Just show up. Be present and accounted for—physically and mentally."

"The March for Women in DC was the first political march I’d ever attended, and not long after that I went to a protest rally in Washington Square to support the rights of Muslims and immigrants, and now the March for Science. It’s comforting to stand in a group among people who share your beliefs; it makes you feel you’re not the only one who's upset (and willing to voice that frustration aloud)."

"While the results on Election Day have kicked my activism into gear in a number of ways, marching still feels the most fulfilling. Showing up to march feels powerful, like we can’t be ignored if we are standing right before you.”

"I made my dream a reality."

Mo Brady

Bandstand ensemblist Jonathan Shew shares with us what it felt like to perform his understudy role of Donny Novitski for the first time this week.

Jonathan Shew

Jonathan Shew

"Ever since I was a kid, it was my dream to be a lead in a Broadway musical. This business is difficult and can seriously crush some dreams."

"On Wednesday, I made my dream a reality. I got to be in the leading role of Donny in Bandstand. For me, this was almost too good to be true. This past year, I've been very fortunate, and this was the icing."

"There was such a rush doing those two shows. And there was such a different energy between them. The first show was definitely a trial run in my mind and body. By 8pm, I definitely felt a calmness and a confidence that I could carry my load to the finish line, while enjoying every minute of it!"

"What made me feel most successful was the support of the entire cast and crew. They shoved with love, guided me, and aided in anything I needed. We have a great group led by Corey Cott and Laura Osnes. I had such a blast stepping into Corey's shoes for the day."

Jonathan Shew, backstage as Donny Novitski

Jonathan Shew, backstage as Donny Novitski

Hear from Jonathan's castmate Jessica Lea Patty on her Rehearsal Reports episodes. And you can connect with Jonathan here on Instagram.

"Like science, art helps to save the world."

Mo Brady

With our episode on Activism coming out at the end of April, Broadway Cares Web Developer Víctor M. Rodríguez shares why he chose to participate in the March for Science in Washington D.C. earlier last month. 

Víctor M. Rodríguez

Víctor M. Rodríguez

"It's my belief that in the theater community, the richness of cultures and ideas, and the intersection of the impressive spectrum of professional fields that come together to create art are so vast that it inevitably opens the perspective and empathy of its people."

"It's a natural progression. I come from a science background. It was only until I studied musical theater and entered the realm of the performing arts that my view of the world became complete and open; like if I were missing a piece of understanding of which I never knew I was missing."

"Art will do that to you. It'll push an introvert with social anxiety like me to go marching with thousands of people. Like science, art helps to save the world."

"I believe TRUTH to be my greatest ally. Science and art share that in common."

Mo Brady

With our episode on Activism coming out at the end of April, Broadway actor and friend of the podcast Justin Sargent shares why he chose to participate in the March for Science in Las Vegas earlier last month. 

Justin Sargent

Justin Sargent

"As an artist, above all else, I believe TRUTH to be my greatest ally. Science and art share that in common. We use science to uncover the truth about our Universe, and ourselves."

"It felt real and powerful and important."

Mo Brady

In honor of our new episode on Activism in the theatre community, we wanted to hear from more artists about why it is important for them to be activists. Michael Mahany, actor and correspondent for Dance Network, told us why it was important for him to participate in The Ghostlight Project this winter. 

Michael Mahany

Michael Mahany

"First and foremost, at the core— for most of us anyway— we are artists, and in accepting our chosen occupation comes the responsibility to reflect the change we want to see in our society. Initially, I was nervous to attend the evening of The Ghostlight Project’s launch, as activism in the sense of actively fighting for social change, is something to which, I’ll sheepishly admit, I was still fairly new."

"But that night— to be there in that incredible place with those hundreds of incredible people, resisting hate and standing for love, and (literally) shining lights on inclusion, equality, and social justice… it felt real and powerful and important; and most significantly for me, it woke me up. It woke me up to the power of an impassioned group of diverse artists and to the power of actually being there together."

"I think because part of our job is to communicate clearly, effectively, and passionately, we as a theatrical community will continue to act as a leader in sociopolitical activism. And, contemporary movements like The Ghostlight Project are the vehicles we will use to spread the love on a national scale."

"With Bandstand, I feel like I won the lottery."

Mo Brady

In honor of the Broadway opening of Bandstand, we asked some of the cast about their favorite moments during the show's creation. Bandstand marks cast member Erica Mansfield's 8th Broadway show.

Erica Mansfield

Erica Mansfield

"There have been so many highlights for me while opening Bandstand.  The biggest for me is finally working with Andy Blankenbuehler.   You could say it was on my dancer bucket list.  I was an Andy fan when I was an avid class taker many years ago so this is a very full circle moment for me.   He is still so brilliant and passionate."

"Being in the room with him has been very inspiring for me.  He keeps you on your toes.  He is up on his feet dancing with you and experimenting.  He makes amazing silhouettes that you can spend forever on and never perfect, similar to Fosse.  The challenge and grit of his movement is something I have really enjoyed and needed to remind me of what made me fall in love with dance in the first place."  

"It feels good, and it is always telling a story.  He has the ability to integrate historical choreographers of the past with his own modern spin.  It makes so me happy that styles are being passed on.  His movement quality allows for a maturity and sexiness that is so fun to play with.  On top of all of that he is kind and respectful to every person who is a part of the process.  A true class act."

"Other highlights?  Well there is simply nothing like coming into the theatre for the first time.  The energy and excitement of walking through the stage door, finding your station and meeting the people backstage that become your family.  Putting that together with the grounded and extremely talented people I am lucky to perform with every night equals gold.  With Bandstand, I feel like I won the lottery." 

Hear about the creation of Bandstand from Erica's cast mate Jessica Lea Patty in our Rehearsal Reports series.

See photos below of Erica in the ensembles of Broadway's Evita and On The 20th Century.