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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. 


"I Never Thought I'd Do It Again."

Mo Brady

Podcast guest Lauren Elder shares her experience performing in the recent 50th Anniversary concert of HAIR produced by The Public Theatre.

Lauren Elder (right, with HAIR director Diane Paulus)

Lauren Elder (right, with HAIR director Diane Paulus)

This week I got to relive my Broadway debut. The show that started my professional career. The show that changed my life. I got to perform in the 50th Anniversary Concert of Hair. 

Ten years ago, I was waiting tables at Jazz at Lincoln Center 5-6 nights a week and getting up early 4-5 days a week to crash EPAs. I was non-Equity and had no agent, but I was determined.

Early in the morning on August 15, 2007, I woke up to head to an open call for the 40th Anniversary Concert of Hair. I didn’t know the show well, but really loved The Public, so I drug myself out of bed, and onto the sidewalk of Lafayette Street. I remember seeing Jo Lampert, Theo Stockman (neither of whom I had met yet), and Allison Guinn (who I'd done a children’s show with previously). We were all in the first group to go into the building to audition. Then I met Anthony Hollock at the callback and told him I knew we were going to be in it! 

And we were. What was billed as a three night concert became a fully staged and choreographed show - in nine days! Our tribe bonded fast and strong. We met for our own be-ins and were then told that we would be doing a full run in the park the following summer. But before that we got to pose for a spread in Vogue and perform at the Vogue Met Gala. Can you imagine? The scrappy hippies performing for A-list celebrities?! 

Megan Lawrence and Andrew Kober

Megan Lawrence and Andrew Kober

At the end of the summer, they announced that the show would be transferring to Broadway. So many of us made our Broadway debuts. We won the Tony for Best Revival, performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and on almost every talk show - they flew us on a private jet to LA to sing on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien (we were the only Broadway show to perform during his run as host)! We marched on Washington, fighting for equal marriage rights! And then they took us to the West End in London. 

I had the most amazing time of my life in Hair. I also broke three bones and have multiple chronic issues in my body from it, but hey, that’s Broadway, right?

I never thought I’d do it again. Especially not my track, in my Broadway costume, and with all of those magical people. But last week, ten years after we started our journey, that happened. 

We started on Sunday morning with a music “remembering” rehearsal. The first half hour was spent hugging, crying, and cheering anytime anyone walked in the door. On e we all settled down, our music director, Nadia DiGiallonardo, started playing the piano, and the lyrics and harmonies cane flooding back. 

The next day we started recreating our original staging with our director, Diane Paulus. Sometimes we had to be told where to go and stand, but like the music, it all came back quickly. Little moments we shared with people at different parts care rushing back. We also tried on costumes that day, and many of us ended up in our old threads. 

Tommar Wilson and Will Swenson

Tommar Wilson and Will Swenson

The sitzprobe (rehearsal with the band) was the next day. So many of them did the 40th Anniversary Concert and Broadway with us, and a couple were even playing Hair in the 60s! Our tribe was finally complete. 

On Wednesday, the day of the show, I walked to the Time Warner Center, and in the same door I used to enter to work at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Once upstairs, I put on my costume, and walked through the hall where I was the night before I auditioned ten years earlier. To say it was surreal would be an understatement. I ran into my old assistant manager, who is now the manager. He asked me to come have a drink at Dizzy’s Jazz Club after (where I worked the majority of my 3 years there). 

We did a quick run/tech of the show and then ate dinner and got ready for the main event. Diane called us all together for a circle before we took the stage. She had us breathe together and told us to do it for us, and focus on us and our love. We yipped together, and went to places. 

The show was an emotional blur. At times it felt like no time had passed, or that I had somehow traveled back in time and was visiting my past self. It was truly magic.

I don’t know if we’ll get to do it again, but I’m so glad we got this reunion. 

The cast of the 50th Anniversary concert of HAIR.

The cast of the 50th Anniversary concert of HAIR.