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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. 


What is a "Themed Put-In?"

The Ensemblist

Hello, Dolly! ensemblist Justin Bowen tells us about one his favorite Broadway traditions, the themed put-in rehearsal.

Justin Bowen (right, with Hayley Podschun at a  High School Musical  themed put-in)

Justin Bowen (right, with Hayley Podschun at a High School Musical themed put-in)

One of my absolute favorite things about being a member of the ensemble, as well as an understudy, on Broadway are the weekly understudy rehearsals. More specifically, I love understudy rehearsals where we get to have a PUT-IN!

Over here at Hello, Dolly!, we have nine principal roles. Each of those nine principal roles has two understudies who also appear in the ensemble. Preparing those eighteen understudy tracks- in addition to six male swings and three female swings- to safely step in at a moment's notice makes for a lot of rehearsal. You can usually find us at the theater working away on Thursday and sometimes even Friday afternoons every week. When it’s decided that someone has had enough rehearsal and is ready to take their understudy/swing assignment for a test drive, we have a PUT-IN! 

On put-in day, the entire ensemble and crew are called in to run the show onstage with the full set, props, and various technical elements. The ensemble performs their regular nightly tracks in rehearsal clothes while whoever is being put-in gets the added pressure of donning full costume, hair, and makeup for the first time. 

Justin Bowen

Justin Bowen

At Hello, Dolly!, we have a tradition of picking a theme for each put-in. Everyone then comes in wearing (sometimes very elaborate and very hilarious) costumes that correlate to that theme. So far this year we have had ‘Super Hero Day,’ ‘Back to School,’ ‘80s,’ ‘Prom,’ and 'Characters from Broadway Veteran Michael McCormick’s Resume.'

When you are the one being put-in, it can feel a bit overwhelming, especially when it’s often the first chance you’ve had to work with certain technical elements or perform the show with actual people around you. Having a themed rehearsal is a great way to add a level of fun, lightheartedness, and camaraderie to what can otherwise be a high-pressure situation. It also gives everyone else something to look forward to as you can’t wait to see what wacky costumes everyone is going to pull out.

Of course we’re ultimately all there to focus and do the work, but there is nothing quite like seeing a waiter dressed as Wonder Woman barrel-turning through the set of the Harmonia Gardens all the while watching your insanely talented ensemblist friends step into the spotlight and knock it out of the park.