AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE TRACKS OF ENSEMBLE ACTORS IN NINE BROADWAY MUSICALS
by Mo Brady
Let’s talk about men, shall we?
Specifically, the talented men who perform in ensembles across Broadway. Is there a Broadway ensemble that is most challenging to be in. Earlier this fall, I reached out to female ensemble members in nine Broadway musicals to share some metrics about their performances, including the number of songs they perform and costume changes they make.
One key metric was to find out how much of their performance were working and when they were “on break.” Anytime where they were doing an assigned duty as part of the show’s performance, I asked them to count as “on the clock.”
Of the nine women who tracked their performances for us, it was almost a tie between Mean Girls and SpongeBob SquarePants. The actors who timed their performances from each clocked more than 130 minutes of "working" time during their shows. However, the ladies of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical are working for more than 95% of their show’s 100 minutes.
But what about the men: Who is Broadway’s busiest men’s ensemble?
For this study, I reached out to male actors in Broadway nine musicals: Aladdin, Frozen, Kinky Boots, Mean Girls, Once On This Island, School of Rock - The Musical, The Book of Mormon, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. Starting their stopwatch when the stage manager called places, the actors would press “lap” the first time they had a break long enough to check their phones. Then, they would press “lap” again when they had something to do (such as go onstage, a wig change, etc.)
In terms of time on stage, Wicked’s Josh Daniel Green was the busiest actor I spoke to. His nine onstage songs and eleven offstage costume changes keep him busy for over two hours of the show’s 166-minute running time. However, The Book of Mormon’s Jacob Haren was nearly as busy performing a total of 13 numbers, 10 costume and seven wig changes in just over two hours.
While Once On This Island’s Daniel Yearwood worked for the least amount of time of any actor I spoke to (just over 81 minutes), he was busy for almost 85% of the show’s performance - including a remarkable 18 songs performed onstage, the most of any actor that I spoke to.
As for the actor who spent the greatest percentage of their show working, Mean Girls takes the metaphorical cake. When swing Chris Medlin tracked his performance as mathlete Marwan Jitla for us on September 30, he was working for a remarkable 89% of the show. The nearly two hours he spent working included 16 costume changes, another 16 set changes and 15 songs performed on stage. Those men of North Shore High are certainly getting a workout, and for my book, are Broadway’s busiest men’s ensemble.
Many thanks to Jason Forbach, Josh Daniel Green, Jacob Gutierrez, Jacob Haren, Andrew Kober, Ross Leitkies, Corey Mach, Chris Medlin, and Daniel Yearwood for helping me make this happen. You made my nerd brain very happy.