Check in here for live updates from The Ensemblist team about our favorite ensemble moments of the Broadway performances shown during this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!
Mo: Hi! I’m here
Jax: Hi, Mo!
Mo: One of my favorite things about the parade is seeing the swings in the number. Already we can see Jesse JP Johnson in the opening moments. And Alex Gibson in that ginger curls!
Mo: It’s awesome to see the that the opening number, “Bikini Bottom Day” has the same infectious energy on TV as it does at the theatre. At the Palace, the cast welcomes the audience with such joy. And that energy transcends into our living rooms as well! Don’t you agree?
Jax: Watching the company of SpongeBob SquarePants perform their opening number on the parade was an absolute and captured the experience I felt in the theatre. Seeing the ensemblists enter as unique individuals and then come together in a high-energy moment of unison choreography even gave me chills when watching on television. I can only imagine the delight this performance brought to children everywhere who haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience it in a theatre.
Mo: I have to give a shout out to Curtis Holbrook. I mean, maybe it’s because he’s on roller skates in a neon pink costume. But his smile always looks massive and genuine. Who stood out to you, Jackson?
Jax: As always, Gaelen Gilliland was a favorite for me. Her commanding, yet warm and joyous presence always draws my eyes directly to her.
Dear Evan Hansen
Mo: Alright, here’s Dear Evan Hansen! And in addition to our first glance at Noah Galvin as Evan, we get to see a mashup with the full cast - even the standbys!
Jax: I agree, Mo! It’s so special to see Dear Evan Hansen include their standbys in the Parade performance.
Mo: Did you see their performance on The Today Show a few months ago? I found this performance to be more effective than that. Maybe it’s because of the choreography? Or maybe because the actors are so cold that they literally have tears in their eyes? Lol
Jax: I did see the Today Show performance and thought the same thing. I thought that adding choreography for this version made the storytelling clearer.
Mo: It wasn’t much choreography though. I thought they could have shown audiences at home a little more of the arc of the show through that song. I wonder if you don’t know the plot of the show, what you took away from that performance (other than that “You Will Be Found” is an amazing song).
Jax: I agree. I don’t know if I would’ve totally understood what was happening, but the song is so beautiful that I would’ve wanted to listen to the album to find out more.
Mo: It does make me want to sit in on an understudy rehearsal at the Music Box Theatre - I’d love to see Olivia Puckett, Colton Ryan, Asa Somers and the rest of the production’s standbys tackle the material.
Mo: Here we go - Anastasia!
Jax: Our first of two Ahrens & Flaherty musical performances on the Parade!
Mo: A costume reveal for Christy Altomare? I was not ready for that!
Jax: That cloak!!
Mo: “Once Upon A December” works so well on the parade! I’ll admit that on that small stage at the Broadhurst Theatre, the number feels a bit cramped. But here at the Parade, there is really room for the number to explode.
Jax: The ensemblists have space to soar!
Mo: And the show used the camera blocking to their advantage. By starting the nubmer with a one-shot close up, and then expanding to wide shots, we really got to watch the memories in Anastasia’s memory expand. Any standout ensemblists in the number for you, Jax?
Jax: While I found myself drawn to various ensemblists at certain moments, I didn’t find myself focusing much on individuals. I was so moved by the beauty of the big picture they all worked together to create.
Mo: Yeah. That’s the difference between an ensemble like Spongebob and one like Anastasia. In the former, everyone is supposed to stand out as an individual. In Anastasia, everyone is supposed to work together as a team. And both of the shows excelled this morning in their respective ways.
Kev: Hi boys! I just got into NJ. I missed Sponge Bob but I caught the Anastasia performance!
Jax: Welcome, Kevin! We’re all Jersey boys today. ;)
Mo: Don’t worry, Kevin. That’s what YouTube and DVR are for! (Sheesh, Jax. You love a MT pun.)
Kev: I agree! “Once Upon A December” worked SO well on TV and in such a nice open space. It was so fun to see all those big, lavish costumes have the room to spin and twirl and breathe. And they all created such a solid, strong picture.
Once on this Island
Kev: Y’all. I’m lit (did I use that right?) for Once On This Island. One of my favorite scores ever but I’ve never seen it onstage except for when I played Agwe in 7th Grade.
Mo: Has there ever been a casting choice more obvious than Kevin Bianchi as Agwe? Unclear.
Jax: LOL. Here we go!
Kev: I love a Once On This Island where the Grand Hommes look like they’re in Ragtime and the peasants look like they’re in In The Heights.
Mo: Wow. The show just looked so BIG in the number. I’ve always thought of OOTI as a small show, but even before the kids came in the show looked massive. That’s the benefit of using the swings in your TV performances, right?
Jax: Totally! It was very special to see the swings on the parade performance. The show felt much more intimate when I saw it at the Circle in the Square last week. Having a larger company for the parade helped the energy explode on screen.
Mo: Did you feel like the performance helped you understand what the show is about? I’ve never seen the show (GAY GASP!), and I don’t necessarily have a sense of what happens in the musical.
Kev: Jax, are all those children in the show for real??
Jax: They are. And I had NO idea they were coming since the finale is the only time they are onstage.
Mo: Those kids are all really in the musical? Think of the child wranglers!! Jax: When you saw the show last week, you said Grasan Kingsberry was a standout. Anybody different draw your eye this morning?
Jax: Darlesia Cearcy! Her expressive eyes read so well on television. While her acting choices are extremely specific to the character she’s creating, they don’t distract from the unity of the ensemble at all.
Kev: I’m always so intrigued by ensembles that maintain a sense of unity and cohesion even when they are showing us segmented worlds onstage. And this show is a perfect example of that.
Mo: Alright boys, I gotta go be a dad to a sick toddler! Happy Turkey Day!