by Mo Brady
On Sunday, June 10, many of Broadway’s most talented artists will be celebrated at the 72nd Annual Tony Awards. From producers to sound designers, the nominees and winners for this year’s 26 categories will get the opportunity to be celebrated by a wider audience or industry professionals and theatre fans. One group of artists that won’t receive recognition that Sunday ae ensemble actors. While they will be onstage performing with their nominated shows, they will not be able to step out and celebrated for their achievements.
Actors’ Equity Association’s #EveryoneOnStage campaign is trying to change that by petitioning for the creation of two new categories for the 2019 season—Best Chorus in a Musical or Play, and Best Ensemble in a Musical or Play.
In the spirit of “Everyone On Stage” these would be our nominees for “Best Actors Not Eligible for a Tony Award This Season."
Matt Allen - Escape to Margaritaville
A Gypsy Robe recipient, Matt Allen has performed in Broadway ensembles for almost two decades. From Honeymoon in Vegas to Something Rotten!, Allen has shown a presence and precision of movement that is virtually unparalleled on Broadway. This season, he uses his smooth, sophisticated stage presence to cut fast and loose as one of the island-loving vacationers in Escape to Margaritaville.
Benjamin Cook - Mean Girls
Nobody on Broadway moves with as much unbridled energy as Ben Cook. When he dances, it’s us if every limb is working in harmony, transmitting the choreographic intention not only from his core but from his guts. In what has become his calling card, Cook flawlessly executes the high-octane choreography of Mean Girls with reliability, slaying from “It Roars” to “Apex Predator.”
Jai'Len Christine Li Josey - SpongeBob SquarePants
If anyone has made a stunning Broadway debut this season, it has to be Jai'Len Christine Li Josey. Her performance as Pearl Krabs in SpongeBob SquarePants is one of the most exhilarating performances currently on Broadway. She plays both emotional desperation and unadulterated joy in perfect tune with the production’s energetic sensibility. Most notably, she makes her Act I duet “Daddy Knows Better” a showstopping tour de force.
Wonu Ogunfowora - Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
The ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical features more than a dozen fiercely talented woman. From belting pop anthems to executing dynamic choreography, this company commands audiences to lean forward and celebrate the life of Donna Summer with unmitigated passion. Forefront in this effort is Wonu Ogunfowora, who brings grit and strength to her movement, as well as a refreshing simplicity to her scene work as Young Mary Ellen and Brooklyn.
Ann Sanders - Frozen
A successful ensemblist performance isn’t always about slick vocals for technical dance moves. Sometimes, it’s about endowing a character with depth not found in the script. Ann Sanders’ portrayal of Queen Iduna in Frozen is filled with warmth and heart, catapulting the emotional longing of both Elsa and Anna into the show’s processings. A Broadway veteran who made her debut in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the ease with which Sanders commands a stage is impressive and cherishable.