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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. 

Blog

"It's the most difficult job in musical theatre."

Jackson Cline

Marcus Shane, currently a swing on the national tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I, joins us for the first of a three-part series of blog posts about life on the road:


Marcus Shane as Prince Chulalongkorn in The King and I

Marcus Shane as Prince Chulalongkorn in The King and I

"Well, it’s JUNE! JUNE! JOAN!!!!!!"

"Hello, beautiful people! This is coming at you from Marcus Shane, currently a swing and wanna-be Tuptim understudy of Bartlett Sher’s national tour of Lincoln Center’s The King and I. Summer is finally here, and we are about to land in Chicago for a month at the Oriental Theatre. (I know. Funny, right?) I’ve been to Chi-town once before with Roundabout Theatre Company’s tour of Anything Goes, and it is definitely one of my favorite cities to perform in!"

"With Anything Goes, I performed the role of John, one of the two Asian brothers who were stowaways on the S.S. American. My brother, Luke, was played by the very handsome and talented Vincent Rodriguez III, who some of you might know as Josh Chan from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Sorry, let me pick that name up off the floor). Working in that one role for a year and a half was an amazing opportunity (working with Kathleen Marshall, John Weidman and Marc Bruni), but became very comfortable for me. The King and I, however, has been a completely different experience on a whole new spectrum."

Marcus Shane with fellow The King and I swing Kelli Youngman

Marcus Shane with fellow The King and I swing Kelli Youngman

"Being a swing was definitely, at first, a very foreign idea to me, as I have never had the opportunity before. Walking into the first week of rehearsals, I was terrified because I didn’t know what to expect or have any knowledge of swing protocol. It was especially nerve-wracking the first week you’re sitting in front of people like Bart Sher and Chris Gatelli. I did A LOT of ‘faking it until I was making it’ that week. (Side note: Bart and Chris are two of the nicest, funniest people in the world, and now I look back and feel silly for ever feeling nervous in front of them.) But that week, I distinctly remember calling all of my swing friends from different contracts and asking for any and ALL swing advice. It was scary, but mostly for the reason that I am a huge perfectionist."

Marcus Shane with The King and I director Bartlett Sher

Marcus Shane with The King and I director Bartlett Sher

 

"Very quickly, I had the biggest and utmost respect for every swing brother and sister out there in theatre world. Everyone says it’s the most difficult job in musical theatre, and no one can fully understand that statement until you have to experience it for yourself. I have to admit that I LOVE swinging, which I understand can go strongly in one way or the other depending on specific people and personalities. For me, going onstage and getting to live in the show from different perspectives keeps it fresh and exciting each time. Nerve-wracking, yes, but never boring. I really do believe it is an imperative skill to possess in our profession, because it trains all aspects of performance as well as many other skills in everyday life. Everyone should definitely try it once! (Side note: My first time on, I smashed my forehead into the Small House of Uncle Thomas and was bleeding all over the stage for the 20-minute Act 2 ballet. Now, I have a cool Harry Potter scar on my forehead. Side-side note: GO SLYTHERINS!)"

"Well, I guess it’s time to go lay out by the pool to get tan and gorgeous for the summer, but before I go, I MUST plug that I will be on for Prince Chulalongkorn June 16-17 in Chicago! If you want to see a 30-something year-old play a 15 year-old, then those shows are the shows for you! Hehe. Catch you all on the flip side, and HEY! Come visit us in Siam this summer! 

Marcus Shane with Vincent Rodriguez III

Marcus Shane with Vincent Rodriguez III