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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. 

Blog

"I Couldn't Hide My Joy."

Mo Brady

by Collins Conley

 Collins Conley

Collins Conley

I was filled with anticipation walking into Power Station on April 16. This was the day I would be recording my first Broadway cast album and I didn’t quite know what to expect out of the whole process. Once I opened the door, however, I knew it would be a fun and unforgettable day. The wood paneled walls, beige carpet, and cool couches created a nostalgic, relaxed vibe and I was immediately struck by the hundreds of album covers that were hung on the walls. I couldn’t believe we, the cast of Mean Girls, were about to record in the same studio as all of these incredible artists! Beyond that, I was greeted by my friends, cast mates, and lots of food, I was definitely ready to start this exciting day.

 

We hit the ground running under the fearless guidance of our music director Mary-Mitchell Campbell, with composer Jeff Richmond listening intently from the booth. The ensemble sings, in some capacity, in almost every number of the show and we only had a quick 9 hours to get it all done. The excitement started hitting me when I was stationed around a mic, headphones on, with my fellow altos. I quickly learned there’s no feeling quite as thrilling or nerve-wracking about recording your vocal tracks! Without all the staging and choreography, it was easy to get lost in the music and even with a script in front of us, there were some hilarious moments flubbing the lyrics, but it is always fun laughing and sharing silly moments with this cast.

 Collins Conley

Collins Conley

Some of my favorite parts of the day were when we started separating the “break out lines." If we had even one word on stage during a song we had to go to an isolated booth with a private mic. The first time this happened to me was with two other girls. It happened to be the song with the tightest harmonies and we were each on a separate part. It was as equally difficult as it was cool to have two different parts singing on each side of me, but it really allowed me hear the full chord structure. We don’t get the full effect of that sound while dancing on stage so I tried to relish those few moments of being able to just listen.

At the very end of the day, we had finished all of the main vocals and only had some fun sound effects left to record. We had people on the floor flipping trays, all of us making animal noises (I really hope video evidence is released for that one day) and a few of us in an isolation booth tapping. They laid out big wooden platforms for us to dance on and hooked us each up to a headset with the click track volume on high. It was weird tapping when my sounds were the quietest thing I could hear, after the click and our voices, but it really allowed me to focus on staying as clean as possible. Tapping for an original cast recording was one of my life goals, but of course no dreams come true just the way you think they will without any hiccups. On our last take I accidentally pulled out my headset jack so in the middle of the dance break everything went silent except for the sounds of the feet around me. I started mouthing the words to the song so I wouldn’t get lost and I really tried to hone in on the other dancers to make sure I stayed right on time without the metronome in my ear! It was momentarily terrifying but surprisingly fun and I was glad I got to really listen and tap with people I respect so much.

The day was filled with so many dream moments, so many laughs, and so many memories I will try to keep forever. The whole process of recording my first Original Broadway Cast album was such a rush and I couldn’t hide my joy when we wrapped for the day. Dreams come true!

 Collins Conley and the cast of  Mean Girls

Collins Conley and the cast of Mean Girls