by Christine McNeal
At a fresh 20 years old stands a multifaceted force of nature that this theatre community is just becoming aquatinted with. The Prom’s youngest cast member, Wayne Mackins (affectionally called “Juice”) has rocketed to the Broadway stage this season after a lifelong dedication to learning and cultivating his crafts.
This month, The Ensemblist named Mackins on their “Ones to Watch” list for 2018. “Earlier this month, we celebrated some of Broadway’s most venerated ensemble actors with the 5th Annual Ensemblist Awards,” says The Ensemblist creator Mo Brady. “However, we wanted to find a way to celebrate and champion the exciting new talent hitting Broadway stages this year as well. That’s how our new ‘Ones to Watch’ list was born.”
Dynamic and high-energy choreography is at the heart of The Prom’s ensemble. Juice’s 13 years of training in various dance styles had thoroughly prepared him to book his debut. The majority of his dance training came out of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, where he trained until coming to study Theatre at Fordham University. Juice states that “the various styles that I was introduced to and currently am still studying allowed me to view multiple concepts in greater detail and depth, as well as having the ability to step back and take in the broader picture.”
Juice was one of the last actors cast in The Prom’s pre-Broadway lab earlier this year. At the time, he was in the middle of the audition process for Macbeth at Fordham. When he was offered a role in the lab, he had to take time off school to participate. However, he viewed the chance to work on the lab as an educational opportunity, as well as a professional one: “I went in as if it was a class because to some degree, it was a learning experience.”
As an ensemble member in The Prom, Mackins plays many smaller roles, including a high schooler and a Godspell cast member. But as the show’s youngest cast member, his favorite part about performing the show is the chance to collaborate with seasoned professionals: “Truly, my favorite is being the fly on the wall and learning about the principals’ experiences and their methods to continuing at a high level,” he says.
Juice’s journey to the Great White Way has been imbued with an insatiable need to learn every single lesson he can absorb. This is seen in the way he watches other artists, in the way he keeps up with all of the different forms of theatre in his own craft, and, on top of that, somehow fitting in an average of one to two new plays read per week.
Juice plans on returning to school in the spring semester and continuing his lifelong journey of constantly bettering himself through an ever insatiable need to learn. When asked about his Broadway debut, Juice explains that “it has taught me that this dream, or whatever it may be, is a marathon, that it demands certain strides at certain points.” Juice has come so far in his career at a young age. However, something tells me that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg of this passion-filled young man’s artistic career. Strides will be taken indeed.