by Mo Brady
While we here at The Ensemblist love a career ensemble performer, that doesn’t mean we don’t love ensemblists who have made it big on Broadway as well. The capacity to play both leading and ensemble roles just proves that you contain multitudes, seamlessly transitioning in and out of the spotlight depending on the needs of the part. Here are five of our favorite ensemblists who are tackling leading roles on the Great White Way this season.
Ari is queen of transitioning in and out of the ensemble. After having her Broadway debut as Nautica in Bring It On The Musical, she played ensemble roles in Motown and Hamilton before originating the leading role of Jane in A Bronx Tale The Musical. Watch for her back on Broadway this spring as she plays music icon Donna Summer at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.
While she made her Broadway debut playing Cosette in the first revival of Les Miserables, her second Broadway appearance was in the ensemble of the Lincoln Center Theatre’s revival The King and I where she covered Tuptim. Since the summer of 2016, she has been playing Christine Daaé in the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera. Not only is she playing the lead female role in Broadway’s longest-running show, she’s the first Asian-American actress to do so. Talk about a trailblazer!
Speaking of A Bronx Tale, the show’s current leading man made his Broadway debut as a replacement ensemblist in Newsies, where he played the role of Morris Delancey, while covering both Jack Kelly and Davey. In between Broadway shows, he played leading man Charlie Price in the national tour of Kinky Boots.
Here’s a woman making a smash on Broadway. In less than three years, she has performed in four Broadway musicals. In each, she has shone as an ensemblist while covering some of Broadway’s most iconic leading roles, from Anna Leonowens in The King and I to Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly! Now she’s heading up the company of School of Rock - The Musical as Principal Rosalie Mullins.
Currently covering the role of Becky and playing the hilarious Nurse Norma in Waitress, Stacy has bounced back and forth from ensemble to principal roles for more than a decade. Memorably leading the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert as one of the delectable divas, she’s also played the Rafiki-inspired Mrs. Brown in The Book of Mormon and one of Violet’s electrifying gospel choir vocalists.