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New York, NY

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. 


"It's Hard to Know When the Time is Right."

Mo Brady

by Shina Ann Morris

Part of Our "Giving Notice" Series

Anastasia was the first show I have ever originated a role in, starting my journey with our out-of-town production in Hartford, so I've felt like I had a part in bringing these characters to life. Though bits and parts and stories I loved were cut by the time we opened here on Broadway, I still felt so humbled to have created something as an original cast member (that wasn't a revival). 

Shina Ann Morris

Shina Ann Morris

I completed about 550 shows by the time I left the show. My decision to leave was actually a combination of two things: I've been nursing a knee injury that my doctor decided was time to operate on, so I'll be having minor surgery soon. Dealing with a chronic injury while doing a show eight times a week is frustrating and at times very painful. We performers are extremely tough and will suffer through a lot for our craft. At first, I was to take a leave from the show to have the surgery, but when an opportunity presented itself to be a part of How to Succeed... at the Kennedy Center (bless you, Denis Jones!), I jumped at the chance. Around the same time, I was offered a track in the out-of-town tryout of Tootsie, so what became a leave from Anastasia ultimately turned into giving my notice. 

To me, it was a very strange thing to give my notice. I always joke to myself that I'm the "Broadway closer"; I'll be with a show until it closes. People kept asking me how I felt about my time ending with Anastasia, and "bittersweet" was the word that kept coming to me. I love the people in this show DEEPLY. We are a crazy, crazy group of people who LOVE TO SNACK, have shenanigans, and just genuinely like each other. I feel so blessed to have spent the last year and change with these people. I will miss being their Comrade the most. I also love singing this glorious music, and love getting to be a princess, even if dancing in a heavy princess dress is pretty hard! 

I think the hard part about leaving a show is knowing when the time is right. A while ago, I was having a difficult time coming to work and trying not to be the dark cloud of the bunch. I'm not quite sure what was going on inside my soul, but there was a point where I thought if I stayed, I would make myself and others around me really unhappy. The last thing I wanted to do was be in a place where I brought negativity around. I think a lot of it had to do with my injuries and the amount of pain I was in, and how I dealt with not being able to live and perform to my full capacity. It can truly take a toll on your heart and soul.

Saying goodbye to Anastasia was easier knowing 1) I'd see these wonderful people again. You never say "goodbye", it's always "see you later"; 2) I am taking the time to heal my body, and at the simultaneously my mind and soul; and 3) I had a gig to dive into after my recovery. I am very aware how blessed I am for this, and I am so grateful for the JOURNEY I took with Anastasia

Until we meet again...

Shina Ann Morris and the cast of  Anastasia

Shina Ann Morris and the cast of Anastasia