by Mo Brady
What is an ensemble? For some, it's a line of talented dancers executing choreography in perfect synchronicity. For others, it's a lush vocal chorus performing exquisite harmonies that move the soul. I would argue that an ensemble is a company of actors of all skills and talents, working together to support the story at hand, as well as each other.
The new musical Prince of Broadway assembles an ensemble of nine legends of the contemporary musical theatre to take audiences on a tour of the Broadway canon. One of the joys of watching the show is that over the course of the performance audiences get to watch the art form of American musical theater develop before their eyes, from the “Golden Age of Musical Theatre” to the “British Invasion” of shows like The Phantom of the Opera.
While Prince of Broadway does employ a framing device in which each performer takes on the role of famed director/producer Harold Prince, the moments where the show’s company truly comes together are when performing some of musical theatre’s most iconic moments.
Yes, we get to see Janet Dacal’s take on Eva Peron, Brandon Uranowitz’s turn as the Emcee and Emily Skinner slink her way through “Send in the Clowns.” But we also get to see Dacal as a Follies showgirl, Brandon Uranowitz as a denizen of Sweeney Todd’s London, and Emily Skinner as a member of Cabaret’s Kit Kat Band.
The nine actors assembled for Prince of Broadway would rarely be seen on the New York stage in anything other than leading roles. But thanks to this show, we get to how such talented performers can excel in supporting roles as well. As Damn Yankees’ trio of baseball players, Uranowitz, Michael Xaiver and Tony Yazbeck knock it out of the park with “Heart.” As Bobby’s good and crazy friends in Company, the full cast works together to make Xaiver’s performance of “Being Alive” land its deserved emotional wallop.
Beyond the show’s collaborative moments, there are numbers where actors truly shine in roles they would not typically get to pay: Bryonha Marie Parham as Cabaret’s Sally Bowles stands out in my mind. But standout moments aside, Prince of Broadway provides audiences with a unique and entertaining opportunity to watch some of the finest actors in New York create a theatrical ensemble.
Mo Brady is co-creator and host of The Ensemblist podcast.