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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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"I'm Still Gagged By It All."

The Ensemblist

Podcast guest Stephen Carrasco recently got to perform a role he understudies in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for many of his closest family and friends. He shares what the experience was like with us today.

Stephen Carrasco

Stephen Carrasco

After I get the egotistical stuff out of the way, I’ll tell you a quick story. It doesn’t have much of a point though, so reader beware. Maybe it does. Who knows...

My ten plus years in show business have been incredible. I’ve performed in six Broadway Shows, numerous national tours, and on TV. I’ve been in all kinds of shows. Some good ones, and some not so good ones. I’ve experienced about 90% of what a career in NY Theater has to offer. Some good things,  and some not so good things. There isn’t much that can shock me anymore. But no matter how jaded I get, one thing still remains the same: I get to head to a theater on Broadway every night and do what I love more than anything in the world. That certainly doesn’t suck.

Stephen Carrasco (right, with Stephanie Gibson)

Stephen Carrasco (right, with Stephanie Gibson)

So here I am, 33 years old, swinging a show that hasn’t been super well-received by NYC critics, but that I couldn’t love more if I wanted to, and understudying two principal roles. Last week, my mom flew here from mid-Michigan to see me go on for one of those roles. My husband and best friends were there that night as well. As I waited in the wings for my first entrance, I was completely overcome with so many thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Nerves had taken over. Even after all these years, and all the times I’ve performed for hundreds of thousands of strangers, I’m a WRECK when my family is in the audience. My heart races, I start to sweat PROFUSELY before even lifting a finger, and anxiety consumes me as I picture myself screwing up in front of the people I love most.

Stephen Carrasco (back, with. Halli TOland, Kristin Piro and Amy Quanbeck - behind the camera!)

Stephen Carrasco (back, with. Halli TOland, Kristin Piro and Amy Quanbeck - behind the camera!)

But I didn’t screw up! At the end of the night, I said the lines and no one died. I even sang a song almost entirely by myself (to which I even remembered all the words!) and didn’t sound horrible. After the show, my mom was beaming backstage. She said (as all mothers do about their children) that I was SO good and she LOVED it. I alway think I’m completely mediocre, but she really seemed to like this performance. It was in that moment that I had to stop and FULLY take stock of what just occurred. How many parents can say they saw their children IN a Broadway show, LET ALONE saw them play a principal role with a song?! HOW IS THIS MY LIFE? Fifteen-year-old Stephen would be FREAKING OUT. If you had asked me when I was 15 if this would be my life, I would’ve said “Well, probably not, but that would be really cool.” AND THEN IT WAS MY LIFE. WTF?! How did this happen?! I say nothing surprises me,  but this felt unbelievably special, and a week later I’m still gagged by it all.

Sometimes life isn’t the greatest. But every now and then, if you look up from your phone and take stock of the moment, it’s really fucking cool.

Listen to Stephen on The Ensemblist here.