by Dennis Stowe
Original cast ensemblist Dennis Stowe shares his thoughts on becoming a standby for the Broadway production of Aladdin, after performing for almost four years in the show's ensemble.
The line we have to walk in this business between being OK with where we are but still having ambition and wanting “more” is an interesting journey. My journey has put me here; after four years of working in the ensemble in Aladdin, I am now the standby for the two roles that I covered, Jafar and the Sultan. With that, I'm taking on my first principal contract on Broadway!
I have been blessed to work in many capacities throughout my career and was never comfortable checking off any one box; “singer/dancer," “dancer/singer," “dance captain," “ensemble," “principal” are all boxes I have checked and am grateful and lucky that I was able to. My Broadway career up until now has been in the ensemble, many times as an understudy and I absolutely love every chance I get to perform on a Broadway stage. Ensemble work, to some, can sometimes feel thankless and under appreciated but I never really looked for validation in my work. I just wanted to tell the story in whatever capacity I was asked to. Downstage on zero or upstage in the dark never mattered to me, as long as I was there.
Now I’m being asked to not only support but to shine, and that feels good. It feels good that the work I’ve put in to being a good ensemble member and good understudy is being recognized. My body is getting a break, I’m being paid more, and I get to start a new chapter in a long-running show that I love and get to tell the story in a different way. I don’t look at it as a move up but rather a move FORWARD.
I would encourage every ensemblist out there to always be dedicated to telling the story. Because just when you might be thinking no one’s looking, you get a very welcome surprise that they are!