As the theatre community finds itself in the middle of Awards Season, The Ensemblist is often asked about the possibility of a Tony Award for Best Ensemble. So we wanted to hear from ensemblists about what Tony Award for ensembles would mean to THEM. Next up, podcast guest and Groundhog Day the Musical original cast member Raymond J. Lee.
"THERE SHOULD BE AN BEST ENSEMBLE TONY AWARD. THERE SHOULD BE AN BEST ENSEMBLE TONY AWARD. THERE SHOULD BE AN BEST ENSEMBLE TONY AWARD. THERE SHOULD BE AN BEST ENSEMBLE TONY AWARD. THERE SHOULD BE AN BEST ENSEMBLE TONY AWARD."
"Sorry I’m currently in Groundhog Day the Musical and I couldn’t help myself!"
"I personally believe that being in the Ensemble of a show is one of the toughest and thankless jobs in this industry. We do it because we love theater. We do it for the love of being in the show, for the camaraderie, for the chance to be a part of the creative process, to live our dreams of being on that Broadway stage."
"Let me give you some honest #Realtalk about being in the Ensemble. Sure it sounds and looks glamorous from our social media accounts and pictures but let me tell you the reality of being in the ensemble of a show. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of figuring stuff out on your own, especially the specific details, because time is so precious. It’s a lot of taking notes from the directing department, the dance department, the music department, producers, dance captains, and trying to make them all work together with one performance because you want to make sure everyone is happy and content and that the show looks the best it can be. You constantly have to walk that delicate balance of adding to the stage but not stealing focus."
"Most principals have the luxury of having time to learn choreography, having table work, one-on-one music sessions, and the ability to ask questions. A lot of the time in the ensemble, you are taught a combination/music, go home to do your homework, and make sure it’s performance ready as soon as possible. You have to be proactive!"
"Sure there’s the possibility that some of us in the Ensemble will be plucked and get their moment to shine to stardom, but the reality is that those stories are one in a million and that’s not why we do what we do. I am extremely grateful for the show families I’ve accumulated in my career. Especially being in Groundhog Day where we deal with such complicated tech elements and so many costumes changes, our entire cast has reached a level of synergy that I’ve never seen before. Someone drops a prop, another cast member immediately picks it up. Someone stumbles on the turn table, another cast member is there to steady them. That is what is so beautiful about a true Ensemble of a show. We have each other’s backs and we protect each other. It’s a magical thing to be a part of."
"And you know what else keeps us going? It’s the fans who wait at the stage door and recognize us being in the show. It’s the ones that let us know they notice our dance moves or silly moments whether it’s front and center or in the back stage right. It’s the people that send us cards or leave us comments on instagram. We feel all that love and we appreciate it so much. Thank you."
"That’s why an Ensemble Tony Award would mean the world to me because it would mean that the industry has paid attention and is grateful for all the hard work the Ensemble of a show puts in. We deserve it. We are just as integral a part of the show as any other category. It’s time to officially thank us with a Best Ensemble Tony Award."