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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. 

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Why Are Invited Dress Rehearsals So Magical?

Mo Brady

With our episode about Invited Dress Rehearsals coming out this week, we wanted to hear from friends in the Broadway community about why they love this Broadway tradition. Here's what some friends had to say about attending the Gypsy Run for Hello, Dolly! earlier this month. 

Listen to our episode on Invited Dress Rehearsals here.

Al Blackstone

Al Blackstone

I’ll never forget the first time I went to gypsy run. it was for the show Curtains and a friend of mine had an extra ticket. I had no idea what a gypsy run was and I just remember feeling completely blown away by the inclusiveness and the energy and the magic of seeing performers in such a vulnerable and electric moment. Karen Ziemba was supposed to catch a cowboy hat on the button of an epic dance number and we all leaned in and held our breath as she just missed it. She laughed and we howled with applause that went on for what felt like a full five minutes. All the while the actors held their pose and glowed with the relief and exhilaration of bringing something to life for the first time. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world to have witnessed that, to have felt that. And to this day if I’m invited to a gypsy run, the answer is always YES.
— Al Blackstone
Invited Dresses (aka Gypsy Runs) are my favorite! You’ll never experience a more supportive audience. I’m so excited about this dress rehearsal! I live in Sunnyside. When I heard they were shutting down the 7 train, I found a friend in Manhattan with a couch I could sleep on!
— Todd Buonopane
Todd Buonopane 

Todd Buonopane 

Corey Hummerston

Corey Hummerston

You never feel more integral to a show as an audience member than at the final dress. It’s the first time the audience and the cast are brand new to each others experience. Which is what makes it so exciting and so supportive. It’s pure joy, excitement and audience to cast friendship.
— Corey Hummerston
An invited dress is glorious because it is often full of friends and family who enter the theatre aching for the show (and their peeps) to succeed. It feels like a huge reunion.The audience starts at a “ten” because we want to love it and we want them to nail it. Sometimes general ticket buyers start at a “zero”, sit back and flatly wait to be entertained or even hope for a travesty and that’s gross. The polar energy exchange between performers/crew and audience during an invited dress is a two-way street and total incomparable.
— David Kimple
Write here...

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Nathan Keen

Nathan Keen

Having friends and family in the audience is the best! For some reason there is always a little more energy to the show when you know people in the audience. For an invited dress, that feeling is multiplied by a thousand, as the entire audience is friends and family. Also, the energy of a “first audience” is incredible. To witness that moment for this revival of Hello, Dolly! is a moment that I will remember forever. Plus any time you can see your friends open a new show on Broadway is amazing!
— Nathan Keen
There’s nothing like being a part of an audience where 100% of the people in the room know that our job is to fill a room with love and support as our friends and colleagues do one of the most vulnerable things possible: showing the baby they’ve been working on for weeks to the world for the first time. I think it’s impossible to feel anything but joy at an invited dress.
— David Levy
David Levy

David Levy

Skye Maddox

Skye Maddox

Being in the audience of an invited dress rehearsal is one of the most exciting things to be a part of, because you can feel the energy buzzing from both sides, the performers as well as the audience. As the performer, it’s this absolutely thrilling, terrifying, invigorating nudge out the door from rehearsal to performance. And as an audience member, you can’t help but be excited for the life that this show is about to take on.
— Skye Maddox
Invited dress is one of the most exciting nights in theatre as someone in the show or an audience member! It’s amazing to have a crowd full of your peers, there to support, who know how much hard work goes into it and how much nervous excitement comes with the first audience! It’s an honor to be among that crowd as the first to see something, and the energy is palpable. To hear an audience reaction for the first time after months of rehearsal is the final piece of the puzzle, and it’s so gratifying to know when something is working... And helpful to know when it doesn’t!
— Lauralyn McClelland
Lauralyn McClelland

Lauralyn McClelland

Listen to Lauralyn on our episode on Replacements here.

Amy Sapp

Amy Sapp

Attending final dress rehearsal for this show, specifically, holds great meaning for me. Hello, Dolly! was the first musical my mother saw when she was six years old; my first show on Broadway was at the Shubert Theatre, starring David Hyde Pierce, many years ago. The parallels of my experience and my mother’s are uncanny, and it’s a joy to share them with her. (Plus, one of my best friends is an Ensemblist in the show and marks his fifth Broadway production with this musical.)
— Amy Sapp
Attending an Invited dress rehearsals (gypsy run) is so special, especially when it’s a big show like Hello Dolly. You have the opportunity to be the last element of what creates the show, the audience. It’s a chance for the cast to feel the show is complete, and you to give as much love and support as you can.
— Bret Shuford
Bret Shuford

Bret Shuford

Megan Sikora

Megan Sikora

I’ve always felt like it’s an honor to see a show’s invited dress rehearsal. They are trusting us to be their first audience when they are most vulnerable and it is our job to shower them with love, not judge.
— Megan Sikora

Listen to Megan on our episode on Married Couples here.

There’s nothing like an invited dress to remind you why this community is so wonderful. It’s all about love and support for our friends who have worked so hard. It’s such a proud moment on both sides of the curtain!
— Samantha Sturm

Listen to Sam on our episode on Married Couples here.

Samantha Sturm

Samantha Sturm

Aléna Watters

Aléna Watters

Listen to Aléna on The Ensemblist here.

Attending an Invited Dress Rehearsal, whether it’s of a brand new show or a revival, is an honor. To me, it’s getting to not only witness, but to be a special part of musical theatre history; it’s the first time that a company gets to perform in front of a live audience reacting to the material that has so needed that final piece of energy going back and forth between audience and company. As an audience member, you get to be a part of revealing what’s really working, and your honest reactions help the creative team to figure out where the work can be put in to make the show even better. Whether on stage or in the audience, t’s a special night filled to the brim with excitement and supportive energy, and is often a place in time where some of the biggest, most thrilling moments of applause, and I’m so grateful whenever I get to be a part of this awesome theatrical experience.
— Aléna Watters