by Jackson Cline
As Jeremy Jordan prepares to announce the recipients of the 2018 Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Ensemble of a Broadway Show, a look of surprise crossed his face. The nominating committee had chosen to recognize not one, but two different companies this year: Carousel and Mean Girls.
These two shows couldn’t represent more different sides of the Broadway canon. One is a stately revival of a classic musical with graceful dancers executing ballets. The other is an irreverent new musical with exuberant contemporary movement and an ensemble featuring Sexy Abe Lincoln (I’ll leave you to figure out which is which).
Yet in both shows, the ensemble is presented as a group of distinct individuals. Skye Mattox, a two-time nominee this year for Outstanding Female Dancer and Outstanding Ensemble stated, “Carousel is an ensemble piece, but everyone is so individual in our show. (Choreographer) Justin Peck is a huge advocate of individual dancers bringing their own style to the choreography. It’s been so nice to be recognized as part of the whole and also to be seen as an individual.”
The Chita Awards nominating committee, which includes Broadway legends such as Robert La Fosse, Donna McKechnie and Lee Roy Reams, recognized these very different, but incredibly talented casts. In celebrating their diversity of skills and abilities, the Chita Awards confirmed the importance of celebrating the multifaceted artists that make up ensembles across Broadway.
When Jeremy Jordan announced the tie for Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show, members of both casts leapt to the stage and intermingled with each other behind the podium. Rarely has the familial connection between Broadway actors been more apparent than in this conglomeration of Northeastern fishermen and high school queen bees.
From the stage, actors from both shows thanked their choreographers and associate choreographers for creating a shows in which their talents can be showcased. Their voices and faces expressed many feelings from gratitude to disbelief, but none more self-evident than joy.