Marcus Shane (Mamma Mia!), currently a swing on the national tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I, celebrates the impressive work of his fellow ensemblists in the second installment of his three-part blog series:
I really wish Elsa was around here to build me a snowman, because it is freaking HOT outside!
Here we are in the dead of summer, and THE KING AND I cast has just docked at the beautiful and historic Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.! We overlap with the national tour of CABARET for three weeks here, and we are all very excited to be reunited with our favorite Ensemblist, Jackson Cline! (Jackson is such a dream boat!) Our four weeks in Chicago was a marvelous time, crossing over with the ALADDIN and HAMILTON tours, and I’m happy to report that I survived my Prince Chulalongkorn debut, the best way a 30-something year old could.
Over here at KING AND I, we are quickly approaching our 300th show, and our company is even stronger than when we started back in October. (Fun fact: Our unbreakable King, Jose Llana, has yet to miss a show!) One of the main factors contributing to our show sailing along so nicely is because of the sheer brilliance of our stand out, amazingly dedicated ensemble. The people of this ensemble are rock solid. Rarely does anyone call out, and, in fact, there are many who still have not called out at all! I dare say this is the strongest ensemble that I have ever been a part of.
So here is a question for you all. Have you ever tried performing a 20-minute ballet in masks with very limited eye sight? With footlong pagodas on top of your head? Twice a day??? It is HARD. These guys and girls go out and do it flawlessly each performance, making it look so easy. And trust me when I tell you that it is anything but that. There is a lot of sweat and sometimes tears (mostly from me). When I’m on, the only thing that gets me through the ballet is pretending that the person dancing next to me is the enormous piece of pizza that I’m going to scarf down after the curtain comes down. Everyone has their own way of coping and that is mine, okay? Lay off me, I’m starving.
Back to the topic. Watching these colleagues of mine giving their heart and soul into each performance gives me so much inspiration. Our leads in this production are the best of the best, but their show could not happen without this ensemble. It makes me think about every other show out there, play or musical, and how their ensembles are working just as hard as ours. I strongly believe it’s time for the Tonys to create the ‘Best Ensemble’ category. These people DESERVE to be recognized. It’s time, Tony Awards. Let’s make it happen, eh?
Alright, I’m going to step off the soap box now and try to rest up for this upcoming 5-show weekend. Be our guest and come visit us in Washington, D.C. this summer! We’d absolutely love to have you here and we’ll save you all a special spot in the royal palace.
Stay cool this summer all you beautiful people! (And remember to drink lots of water!!!)
Learn more about working on the road by listening to our Life on Tour episode.